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Could 'unholy trio' be cured by genes?

Byline: Robin Turner Reporter robin.turner@walesonline.co.uk

SWANSEA University researchers are looking at new ways of tackling an "unholy trinity" of common ailments - eczema, hay fever and asthma.

It's thought at least 10m people in Britain alone suffer from the most common of the three, hayfever.

Now Swansea University College of Medicine experts have taken part in a worldwide study, published this week in the renowned scientific journal Nature.

The three ailments are all linked by Atopy, a family tendency to develop certain allergic conditions.

The collaborative work being done in Swansea is looking at ways of tackling the conditions using our genes.

If one or both parents have eczema, asthma or hay-fever, it's more likely their children will develop one or more of the conditions.

A university spokeswoman said: "Atopy means your body produces a certain type of antibody, called immunoglobulin E (IgE), in response to harmless allergens, such as pollen and dust mites.

"Atopy is what links eczema, asthma and hay fever.

"Eczema usually appears first, often at a very young age.

"Babies or children with eczema are then at a high risk of developing asthma and hay fever at a later stage.

"These diseases are increasing in prevalence and are a major source of disability in the modern world."

Specialists from institutions in Swansea, Havard (Boston,USA), Quebec (Canada), and Imperial College London conducted the study.

Dr Gwyneth Davies and Professor Julian Hopkin, from the College of Medicine at Swansea, were involved in the work.

Dr Davies recruited more than 1,600 volunteers for the Swansea University Asthma Population Asthma study from students and university staff, who were carefully logged by their physical and biochemical characteristics for asthma-related characteristics and genetic makeup.

The study used a biochemical approach to identify gene patterns in normal subjects and in those with allergy and asthma - and through that was able to identify proteins (made by our genes) important to the allergy process.

Dr Davies said: "The work opens up the possibility of developing new diagnostics or therapeutics based on these proteins."

Further work is now planned.

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More than 1,600 volunteers were recruited by <B Swansea University researchers for the asthma study

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 20, 2015
Words:366
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