Peanut allergy affects one to two percent children in the UK and may cause a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction. Over the past years, a dramatic elevation in the number of peanut allergy cases seems to have taken a toll. Investigators from the University of Dundee have now laid hands on a gene that is linked with peanut allergy.
The study was triggered on a total of 71 individuals with peanut allergies in England, Ireland and the Netherlands. Defects in the Filaggrin gene were registered among every one in five patients. Also a separate, larger-scale replication of the study of 390 people with peanut allergies in Canada affirmed the findings. In conclusion, it was asserted that a genetic change is strongly related to peanut allergy.
“Allergic conditions often run in families, which tells us that inherited genetic factors are important. In addition to that, changes in the environment and our exposure to peanuts are thought to have been responsible for the recent increase in peanut allergy seen in the western world in particular,” explained Dr Sara Brown, Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow in the Division of Molecular Medicine at Dundee.
However, experts only looked for the most common mutations in the Filaggrin gene. The gene supposedly accounts for only one in five patients and hence, future attempts to fully understand the genetic risk factors for this complex disease will be made. The Filaggrin gene codes for a protein may aid in making skin a good barrier against irritants as well as allergens.
The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.