Scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health have just announced that they can now differentiate between the proteins that cause dust mite allergy and the proteins from dust mites that do not cause allergies.
What this means for people with dust mite allergy is that new, more effective medications and therapies can now be developed. Read more about the study here.
Proteins at the Heart of Dust Mite Allergy
Dust mite allergy happens when the immune system doesn’t correctly identify proteins from dust mites. Researchers have known this for many years.
Strategies for dust mite allergy control have centered around these proteins. The theory being if you can avoid the protein you can avoid the reaction.
In addition, denaturing agents have been recommended to restructure or neutralize these proteins. Sprays like ADMS and powders like X-Mite contains agents that break the proteins down.
What was not understood was the difference between different types of dust mite proteins.
Allergen versus Non-Allergen
“Allergy researchers have pondered what distinguishes an allergen from a non-allergen for years,” said NIEHS Staff Scientist Geoffrey Mueller, Ph.D., corresponding author of the paper.
House dust mites produce the most common household allergens and cause misery to people of all ages. Dust mites produce several types of proteins but not all of they proteins they produce cause allergic reactions.
Researchers took two approaches, first compare the amount of proteins and types of proteins being made and secondly to understand the differences in the proteins.
They discovered that there are major differences between the proteins that cause dust mite allergy and the dust mite proteins that do not cause allergies.
It turns out that the proteins causing allergy are more stable and more abundant. Because they are more stable, they survive transfer from the source to the allergic person. Unlike some pollen proteins that break down will floating in the air, dust mite allergens hold together.
Researchers also discovered that there are more dust mite allergy causing proteins produced by dust mites than previously thought.
The better researchers understand the dust mite allergy causing proteins, the more effective therapies and medications they can develop.
Understanding the stability of the dust mite allergy-causing protein leads to understanding how the immune system handles these proteins.
“Dust mite allergy is a risk factor for asthma, which is a disease of enormous public health importance in the U.S. and abroad,” said NIEHS Scientific Director Darryl Zeldin, M.D. “Studies such as this one, which enhance our understanding of the characteristics and biology of dust mite allergens, have significant potential to lead to development of new approaches that treat this condition.”
That’s good news for people with dust mite allergy and allergy-induced asthma.
Until then, keep washing with De-Mite.