August 31, 2017 | News

Feeling Itchy? Inflammation could be scratched out

A team of researchers from Imaging CoE at the University of Queensland (UQ) has discovered an important clue to new medicines for treating inflammatory diseases, including allergies such as rhinitis, itchy hives, eczema/dermatitis, asthma and others. 

As we know, human immune cells respond to allergens by releasing histamine and many other agents that cause inflammation. However, for some allergies, we can take anti-histamines to relieve the symptoms but they do not stop other causes of inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases, including asthma. 

Chemists led by Imaging CoE’s Dr. Robert Reid have learned how to build small chemical molecules that can either switch on or off an important protein on the surface of human innate immune cells that control our immune responses to many allergens in our environment.  

Looking deeper into the application of this finding, Imaging CoE’s Dr. Abishek Iyer and PhD student Johan Hamidon found that the new chemicals can block the functions of human immune cells like mast cells, macrophages and neutrophils.

These compounds have been successfully trialed in rodent models and were found to be potentially effective in also treating human inflammatory diseases. This is a new approach to managing a person’s risk of developing severe allergies and inflammatory reactions that can often lead to disease.

The team led by Imaging CoE CI, Professor David Fairlie, will now use these identified chemicals to better understand the molecular basis of human immune responses to a diverse range of allergens that cause allergies, asthma or other inflammatory conditions. The study is published in Nature Communications. 

Nature link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-00414-w?WT.feed_name=subjects_immunology