New Target for Allergies Found under the Eyelid

Scientists keep an eye on MIP-1a
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Professor Santa Jeremy Ono and colleagues from UCL's Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital found that the macrophage inflammatory protein-1a, known as MIP-1a and located in the eye, plays a crucial role in the early stages of an allergic response. Their findings suggest that drugs that block the binding of MIP-1a to its receptors could help in the treatment of ocular allergy and other allergic diseases.

The first phase of an allergic response involves an immediate hypersensitivity reaction within one hour of exposure to an allergen, where mast cells release histamine and other molecules such as chemokines. MIP-1a is one such chemokine. Little is known about how chemokines contribute to the first phase of an allergic disease.

Ono and colleagues discovered that within the clear membrane that coats the inner surface of the eyelid and outer surface of the eye, known as the conjunctiva, MIP-1a was essential in the initial stages of development of an allergic response.

MIP-1a was also necessary for the second phase of the disease, which is associated with chronic allergy. It is likely that MIP-1a or similar molecules are also essential for the development of other allergies such as asthma, dermatitis or anaphylaxis, a body-wide allergy that left untreated can result in death.

The UCL study suggests that drugs that block the binding of MIP-1a to its receptors CCR1 or CCR5 may have therapeutic value in the treatment of ocular allergy and possibly other allergic diseases.

Professor Ono says: "Many current allergy treatments target symptoms rather than the cause of the disease, meaning this discovery could constitute a new target for the treatment of allergic diseases.”

MEDICA.de; Source: University College London