Comment »Posted on Friday 24 July 2009 at 2:45 pm by Emma Stokes
In Biology, Health & Medicine

Using mice, scientists have pinpointed the molecule which is responsible for making allergic reactions more severe.

The team studied patients who had experienced anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) during surgery. They found that these patients had very high levels of the hormone IL-33. Further studies using mice showed that this hormone significantly increases inflammation.

Inflammation is triggered during anaphylactic shock. This reaction is often so severe that constricts the airway, leading to breathing difficulties and even death. By blocking the IL-33 hormone in mice the researchers were able to reduce the inflammation to non threatening levels.

The next stage is to study the hormone in more detail to better understand why it causes such severe inflammation. In the future, IL-33 inhibitors could change the way we treat anaphylaxis and could save many lives.

For more information on animal testing, and this story, see the Understanding Animal Research site.

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