Slowing the Allergic March

A pandemic of ailments called the "allergic march" — the gradual acquisition of overlapping allergic diseases that commonly begins in early childhood — has frustrated both parents and physicians. For the last three decades, an explosion of eczema, food allergies, hay fever, and asthma have afflicted children in the United States, the European Union, and many other countries.

What causes the march and how to derail it has remained elusive. Now, in this week’s Nature, David Artis, PhD, an associate professor of Microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and a team of collaborating international scientists, identified that expression of the protein TSLP may influence susceptibility to multiple allergic diseases by regulating the maturation of basophils, an uncommon type of white blood cell. Specifically, TSLP elicits the maturation of a population of distinct basophils that promotes allergic inflammation.

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