Monday, May 22, 2006

Possible New Treatment For Allergies

The National Institutes of Health provides new insight into the cause of a series of related, common and complex illnesses that include hay fever, asthma and skin disorders, eczema and psoriasis. These illnesses are inflammatory disorders of the tissues that separate the inside of the body from the outside world, such as the skin and the linings of the throat and lungs.

The new therapeutic approach the NIH is currently developing might make it possible to break the cycle, where excessive production of a specific protein disrupts the protective properties of the skin barrier. Once the skin barrier is compromised, immune-system-stimulating chemicals — allergens — can enter the body and cause an inflammatory reaction that, in turn, stimulates skin cells to grow rapidly, further diminishing the protective function of the skin. by creating a temporary, artificial barrier on the skin that blocks incoming allergens. The compromised barrier, in turn, becomes more porous to allergens that then stimulate more inflammation in a cycle that eventually produces common skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

The solution could be as simple as developing a lotion that effectively blocks allergens from getting through damaged skin. Keeping allergens out of the skin would keep the immune system from over-stimulating cell growth, giving the skin time to re-create a normal barrier.

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