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Gene defect that can triple peanut allergy risk identified

March 12, 2011 - London

Scientists have identified a gene defect that can triple the risk of a child developing an allergy to peanuts.

An international research team, led by Dundee University, said it had made a 'significant breakthrough' in understanding the disease, reports the BBC.

The number of people affected by the condition has increased dramatically over the past 20 to 30 years, but the causes of the allergy are unknown.

Dr Sara Brown, a fellow at Dundee University, said investigating whether Filaggrin was a cause of Peanut allergy was the "logical next step" after its link with eczema and Asthma had been established.

"Now, for the first time, we have a genetic change that can be firmly linked to Peanut allergy."

The research - by scientists from Canada, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands - discovered that the Filaggrin gene helped to make the skin a good barrier against irritants and allergens.

But changes in the gene decreased the effectiveness of this barrier, allowing substances to enter the body and leading to a range of allergic conditions.

The study suggests one in five of all Peanut allergy sufferers have a Filaggrin defect. Those with the defect can be three times more likely to suffer peanut allergy than people with normal Filaggrin.

The study been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.


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