Researchers have discovered a mechanism that stops the body reacting with an excessive immune reaction, which could lead to new treatment for allergies.

Scientists from the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF) in Davos, from the University of Tokyo, the RIKEN Research Institute in Yokohoma, and from Stanford University recently discovered a mechanism that could be the basis for a new way to handle allergies.

Mast cells play a key role in the disease process in allergies: As a reaction towards an allergen — for example pollen or dust mites — they release big amounts of substances that initiate an inflammatory process. Study leader Hideaki Morita and his team discovered that mast cells are not only “bad guys,” but also have a “good side”: They release the substance interleukin-2 that induces the production of certain immune cells called T-regulatory (Treg) cells. Treg cells can suppress the allergic inflammatory process in the airways induced by interleukin-10.

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