Allergenic Potential Can Be Identified By Substance Interactions

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Allergy is characterized by increased sensitivity and reaction of the immune system to substances that are normally harmless. These substances are called allergens, like dust, some food, and drugs. Allergy can be very inconvenient and may even be harmful since airways may be affected (depending on the type of allergy). According to Carl Simonsson of the University of Gothenburg-Department of Chemistry, they have determined particular cells and proteins in the skin with which contact allergen interacts. He added that the results may augment the body of knowledge about the mechanisms responsible for contact allergy.

Skin is the largest organ of the human body. It plays a lot of important roles like preventing harmful microorganisms from penetrating the body. The main barrier of the skin is composed of a layer of skin cells surrounding a few microns thick called the stratum corneum. This layer may be thin but this gives effective and adequate protection to the human body against bacteria and viruses. On the other hand, the skin is not designed in such a way that it can deal with and avoid absorption of chemicals from which we can easily be exposed nowadays. This can result to different kinds of diseases, like contact allergy that presently affects an estimated 20% of the population in Sweden.

The thesis by Carl Simonsson illustrated the utilization of an advanced form of light microscopy, called “two-photon microscopy”. This type of microscopy has the ability to follow substances that are absorbed in the skin. Moreover, this technology has unique features, since it enables us to visualize how exactly the substance is absorbed, what happens to it after, and the area in the skin that the substance can be found ultimately.

Furthermore, for the development of novel medications, the skin barrier and the mechanism characterizing the absorption of certain substances are of great importance. For a number of reasons, creams and ointments are truly remarkable alternative to tablets that need to be administered through the mouth. In this case, an obstacle may be encountered due to the barrier properties of the skin, such as ample amounts of the medications may have difficulty in penetrating the skin to produce a therapeutic effect.

In addition, Carl Simonsson elaborated, “We have used two-photon microscopy to study a new type of ointment that it may be possible to use to improve the absorption, and thus the clinical effect of certain drugs that are used on the skin”.  The findings from this study have deepened our understanding in the interactions present between substances in the skin and its association with the likelihood of acquiring allergies.




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