News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Malaghan Institute unravels mysteries of allergic response

18 August 2014

Malaghan Institute unravels mysteries of allergic response

Researchers at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in Wellington are a step closer to unravelling some of the mysteries surrounding what triggers an allergic response.

Research headed by Professor Franca Ronchese and now published in the Journal of Immunology, concludes that allergies change the properties of a certain type of dendritic cell found in the skin. It’s the dendritic cell that then tells the immune system how to respond.

“This study is significant because, while we know a lot about the symptoms of allergies, comparatively little is understood about the detail of what starts an allergic response,” says Doctor Lisa Connor, Research Fellow at the Malaghan Institute’s Immune Cell Biology Programme.

“This research is exciting news for the Malaghan Institute. Years of research around the world demonstrate that dendritic cells play a key role in the immune system owing to their ability to control both immune tolerance and immunity. The ultimate goal of a team of researchers at the Institute is to use these new discoveries to develop ways of generating therapeutic immunotherapies against allergies. In essence, Malaghan Institute researchers are seeking an “off switch” for allergic responses.”

Whilst the progress reported in the paper fills a gap in our knowledge, many challenges remain. For many diseases, including allergies, key pieces of the immune pathways remain unclear. It is now recognised that there is a progression of disease; children with dermatitis are more likely to develop food allergies, followed by respiratory allergies such as asthma and hay fever. This progression is called the ‘allergic march’. It is thought that by inhibiting the early development of allergic diseases the likelihood of more severe forms occurring later in life should decrease.

The research focused on the skin, so next steps will include looking at dendritic cells in the gut and lungs; as well as developing a detailed inventory of their characteristics and behaviour.

Allergies are very common and affect about one in three New Zealanders at some time in their lives. The incidence of allergic diseases has increased significantly over the last two and a half decades, and is regarded to be a global epidemic.

This study was supported by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

Publication details
Connor LM, Choot Tang S, Camberis M, Le Gros G, Ronchese F (2014) Helminth-conditioned dendritic cells prime CD4+ T cell to IL-4 production in vivo. Journal of Immunology.

About the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research
The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research is New Zealand’s leading vaccine and immunology research institute and is based at Victoria University of Wellington’s Kelburn campus. The Institute operates independently and is a charitable trust. Researchers at the Malaghan Institute are focused on developing innovative ways to harness the strength and potency of the immune system, the body’s own natural defence against disease, to treat cancer, asthma and allergy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and infectious disease.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news