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Aussie scientists in allergy breakthrough -

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Aussie scientists in allergy breakthrough

The World Today - Tuesday, 1 July , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Emma Alberici

ELEANOR HALL: Allergies are a growing problem worldwide but now extreme allergic reactions could
become a thing of the past, thanks to a discovery by Australian scientists.

Researchers from the Garvan Institute have identified two molecules which combine to create an
allergic reaction 10 times more powerful than anything one molecule could create on its own.

They say that turning one of these molecules off could mean that the most severe of allergic
reactions could be avoided.

Emma Alberici has our report.

EMMA ALBERICI: According to the World Allergy Organisation, allergies are now the most frequent
reasons patients seek medical care.

In its inaugural state of world allergy report, the organisation states that even the less severe
allergic diseases can have a major adverse effect on the health of hundreds of millions of people
and diminish quality of life and worker productivity.

Now a world first study from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research is providing hope for people
suffering even the most extreme allergic reactions.

Dr Stuart Tangye led the team that has identified two molecules which, when they meet, create a
reaction 10 times more powerful than that produced by a single molecule on its own.

STUART TANGYE: It is fairly significant because for a long time we have known about some of the
factors that are involved in the production of IGE by the immune system but discovering another one
and quite a potent one is important because it tells us that we have to think about other targets
and so on for treating allergic diseases.

EMMA ALBERICI: An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma. It's one of the most
common chronic respiratory diseases in childhood but also affects adults.

The global affects of asthma, morbidity, mortality and economic burden associated with it have
increased sharply over the past 40 years.

The prevalence alone of asthma has increased by 50 per cent every decade.

Of those who participated in the European Community Respiratory Health survey, up to 70 per cent of
those who said they suffered asthma also reported having hay fever.

Stuart Tangye is excited by what implications his research will have on these patients

STUART TANGYE: I think it is very exciting because it really has revealed to us another molecule
that could be really involved in the allergic processes.

Now that we have identified these couple of molecules, they represent targets that we could go
after to try to treat people who suffer from different allergic conditions.

EMMA ALBERICI: So how much better could this discovery make those symptoms they are feeling?

STUART TANGYE: Well, a lot of the symptoms that we see in these conditions are triggered by the
action of the antibody molecule IGE which is what we have been studying so by reducing the amount
of that IGE that is produced should attenuate many of the symptoms so hopefully it would give a
great deal of quality of life to these patients.

EMMA ALBERICI: Rob Loblay of the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy remains
unconvinced that this development will translate into concrete solutions for patients.

ROB LOBLAY: I mean human disease is a lot more complicated than what you find in tissue culture
found in mice and a lot of the basic biology is done first in mice or in tissue culture and doesn't
always translate into living people.

And then even when it does translate into living people and you have got a drug that looks really
good or a treatment that looks really good in animals and people get very excited then, nine out of
10 drugs that are exciting in animals, turn out not to work in humans.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Rob Loblay from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology ending Emma
Alberici's report.