The immune system constituents that spark off allergic reactions may also help protect against skin cancer, according to new evidence from a study carried out by Imperial College London. The results also uncover previously unknown skin defensive mechanisms that might also pave the way to new therapies against skin cancer.
The initial research, released in the journal Nature Immunology, could also shed light on why allergies are increasing. Assessments indicate that 44 percent of Britons currently suffer more than one allergy, but the causes of the increase are not yet known.
The researchers believe their discoveries underpin the so-called ‘Toxin Hypothesis,’ suggesting that environmental toxins and external chemicals can lead to allergic reactions.
The new investigation is centered on a form of antibody dubbed as immunoglobulin E or IgE. This protein, a part of the immune system, causes allergic reactions by erroneously acknowledging safe substances, such as peanuts, for example, as dangerous.
Immunoglobulin E, which causes allergic reactions, could protect against skin cancer
The immune system attacks the foreign substance under the guidance of IgE, resulting in skin rashes and swollen face, mouth and, in some severe instances, the inflammation of the respiratory tract.
The most recent study is supporting the idea that antibodies can have a critical function in protecting against the damage of environmental chemicals and thereby against cancer.
Immunoglobulin E, unleashed as a result of skin exposure to toxic substances, builds up in the skin and keeps impaired cells from developing into malignant tumors.
Dr. Jessica Strid, the study’s lead author from Imperial’s Department of Medicine, said that the “IgE must play an important role in the body, but scientists are not yet clear what it is at this time. We used to think that it protects us against parasites (…) but the body can still fight parasites without IgE, we don’t believe this is the only purpose now.”
Analysis showed that less-threatening tumors showed more IgE-bearing cells, while more acute tumors presented less IgE, implying that IgE might offer a specific protective effect against skin cancer development.