Deadly Allergic Reactions

Life-threatening allergic reactions are nothing to joke around with. Any person with a peanut allergy can testify to this. Even people indirectly involved in the whole process can attest to this.

One of the most well-known examples of this are people with peanut allergies. As soon as they come into contact with peanuts, their pulse starts to rise, their blood-pressure gets dangerously low, and their throat starts to close up. This rapid and sometimes fatal reaction is called anaphylaxis.


Recently scientists have performed studies in mice in order to learn how ingesting even a small amount of an allergen can cause such a drastic reaction. What they have learned is that all this is caused by a cell type that patrols our bloodstream in search of allergens. As soon as these cells come into contact with an allergen, they send alarms to anaphylaxis-inducing immune cells. These cells are better known as mast cells and their primary function is to protect the body from these allergens.

When the mast cells come into contact with an allergen, they flood the system with proteins that cause inflammation that begin the allergic reaction. During the study, the scientists lowered the number of various immune cells in a mouses bloodstream in order to detect which one was responsible for this reaction. What they found was that there is an intermediary cell that detects the allergens and that cell is a form of a dendritic cell. These cells periodically test the blood for the presence of allergens. They then send packets to other immune cells so they can react accordingly. Lowering the number of these dendritic cells almost completely removed any anaphylactic symptoms.

These same cells may potentially be targeted in order to completely prevent allergic reactions. Sadly this is still years away from being approved for human testing.

Editor's Picks

There are very few people on this planet who enjoy their work more than Aner Banner. His friends often readily admit that Aner eats, sleeps, and breaths science 24 hours a day. He is always challenging old methods, proposing new ideas, and seeking to solve difficult problems. Aner spends most of the day imparting his wisdom to the young minds of a small elementary school. Thankfully he has also mastered the art of making science come alive for the future leaders of our nation. He is loved and well respected by students, parents, and faculty alike. His motto forever remains “never stop learning.

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