IMAGE: Human skin cancer cells (blue) with IgE antibody Bound to them (red). view more
Credit: Imperial College London
The components of the immune system that trigger allergic reactions may also help protect the skin against cancer, suggest new findings.
The research, led by Imperial College London, highlights previously unknown skin defences – and could open avenues for developing new skin cancer treatments.
The early-stage study, published in the journal Nature Immunology, may also provide clues into why allergies are on the rise. Estimates suggest 44 per cent of Britons now suffer from at least one allergy – but the reasons behind the increase are unknown.
The team behind the latest research suggest their findings support the so-called ‘Toxin Hypothesis’, which proposes that exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals foreign to our body may trigger allergic responses.
The new research focuses on a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E, or IgE. This protein, which is part of the immune system, triggers allergic reactions by mistakenly recognising a harmless substance – such as peanuts – as a danger. A full-blown attack is launched by the body, under instruction from IgE, resulting in skin rashes, and swelling of face, mouth –
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