Scientists Discover Natural Protein That Stops Allergies And Autoimmune Diseases

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Scientists Discover Natural Protein That Stops Allergies And Autoimmune Diseases

Photo: A human plasma cell; Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Scientists have discovered that a protein called 'neuritin' could be used to treat issues related to autoimmune diseases and allergies.

The discovery could herald a new wave of drugs that could tackle everything from deadly autoimmune diseases that kill tens-of-thousands worldwide each year, to treating hay-fever and other allergies that affect a huge swathe of the human population.

The team working at the Australian National University (ANU) found that cells taken from human tonsils, entered into the bodies of mice, resulted in the mice fighting off autoimmune conditions. The reason for this was neuritin, which the scientists believe could work like an in-built antihistamine, and which, if utilised properly, could eliminate or control autoimmune conditions.

Paula Gonzalez-Figueroa, who led the study in Australia, said of their discovery:

"There are over 80 autoimmune diseases, in many of them we find antibodies that bind to our own tissues and attack us instead of targeting pathogens - viruses and bacteria. We found neuritin suppresses formation of rogue plasma cells which are the cells that produce harmful antibodies."

We know already that the cause of autoimmune conditions and allergies is the body's T-cells releasing huge amounts of histamine, which if released too quickly and in too great a quantity, can damage the body or even kill it. The team believes that the body also releases neuritin to calm this process. In those suffering autoimmune conditions and allergies, either too much histamine is created, or too little neuritin. If chemists were able to create a drug using neuritin, it may work far better than traditional antihistamines and anti-allergy drugs.

The team, who has been working on this project for 5 years, say they are yet to fully understand the biological mechanism for the release of neuritin, or how it actually operates in the body, but believe that this will be understood through further research.

Gonzalez-Figueroa added:

"This could be more than a new drug - it could be a completely new approach to treat allergies and autoimmune diseases. If this approach was successful, we would not need to deplete important immune cells nor dampen the entire immune system; instead, we would only need to use the proteins our own body uses to ensure immune tolerance."

If the scientists are able to understand the way neuritin operates within the body, and biochemists are able to adapt drugs for human consumption, it could not only change, but also save the lives of millions.

[h/t: science alert]

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Thinking Humanity: Scientists Discover Natural Protein That Stops Allergies And Autoimmune Diseases
Scientists Discover Natural Protein That Stops Allergies And Autoimmune Diseases
Scientists have discovered that a protein called 'neuritin' could be used to treat issues related to autoimmune diseases and allergies. The discovery
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