Traidl-Hoffmann and colleagues showed that extracts from birch pollen and other common allergens block the production of a soluble protein by immune cells that normally inhibits allergic reactions. They went on to identify the compound in the pollen extracts that caused the inhibitory response and showed that it was similar to certain pro-inflammatory molecules produced in the body in response to injury or infection. The authors now plan to assess whether cells from allergy-prone people are more sensitive to the effects of the pollen-derived compound than those from non-allergic individuals. A better understanding of these molecules and how they work may eventually lead to new approaches to treating allergies.
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