Saturday, 27 August 2011

JCU leads the research world again

Possible asthma cure found in most unlikely of places: shellfish

Daniel Bateman
Saturday, August 27, 2011
© The Cairns Post

 JAMES Cook University researchers have discovered a link between those suffering from seafood allergies and those with asthma.

The protein that triggers an allergic reaction from eating shellfish, tropomyosin, has been found to be very similar to a protein found in household dust mites.

Dust mites are the main triggers of asthma worldwide, and are common in beds and carpets. The microscopic creatures’ droppings, which travel in the air through dust, can provoke a strong allergic response when inhaled.

JCU immunologist Dr Andreas Lopata said there was a small percentage of people who were allergic to both shellfish and dust mites.

"We basically identified that some people with the crustacean allergy actually reacted strongly to the household mite and vice versa," Dr Lopata said.

A research team based in Townsville, led by Dr Lopata, has been closely studying tropomyosin in order to develop a better treatment and therapy for those who suffer from allergies caused by the protein.

They believe the key can be found in the body’s ability to create antibodies when it is exposed to the allergen.

Those who suffer seafood allergies after eating crustaceans develop symptoms within minutes, including itching and swelling of the lips, mouth and throat.

"Our immune system can make special antibodies which can help the patients if they eat the shellfish or inhale the allergens," Dr Lopata said.

"The immune system doesn’t react in an immune way but rather in a protective way. About 10 per cent of Australians suffer from asthma."

The researchers hope with more funding they will be able to develop a treatment within the next three years.

"We just applied for funding. Hopefully with larger funding next year we can then employ more staff to speed up the process," Dr Lopata said.


Possible key: Shoko Ura with a plate of seafood at Tha Fish restaurant on The Pier.

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