Many people suffer from autoimmune diseases and live with allergies. Unfortunately, the number of those affected continues to increase. For their part, the researchers still do not know the real reasons for these abnormal reactions of the immune system that attack healthy cells instead of protecting us through targeted fight against pathogens.
Hoping to change the situation, a team of Australian scientists investigated the subject. Their work enabled them to discover a protein called neuritin.
An original protein
“There are over 80 autoimmune diseases. In many of them we find antibodies that bind to our own tissue and attack us instead of targeting pathogens – viruses and bacteria, “reports immunologist Paula Gonzalez-Figueroa of the Australian National University (ANU) about Science Alert.
Dr. Gonzalez-Figueroa and his colleagues spent several years understanding neuritin. It is a protein that is excreted by the body to fight allergic reactions. Without it, these reactions can be fatal.
A new way to prevent and treat allergies and autoimmune diseases
When the immune system overreacts to allergens, it produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E. When these are excessively produced in response to normally harmless substances such as food, it leads to the release of histamine, which leads to allergic reactions.
Plasma cell that produces antibodies. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Kateryna Kon
However, ANU researchers found that neuritin can prevent the excessive production of immunoglobulin E. A finding that could prove useful in combating allergies and autoimmune diseases such as asthma, food allergies and lupus at the same time.
Gray areas are waiting for clarification
“We found that neuritin suppresses the production of unwanted plasma cells that cause harmful antibodies,” said Dr. Gonzalez-Figueroa. To reach this conclusion, the team used transgenic mice and cell cultures from human almonds. In their report, however, the researchers point out that they are still ignoring the effects of neuritin on other cellular processes.
Although the role of this substance in the human body has been studied for some time, it is not yet clear how it prevents the appearance of harmful cells. Suffice it to say that more in-depth studies are needed before the protein can be used to treat the prevention, and possibly cure, of allergies and anaphylaxis.