Stanford researchers discover genetic basis for allergies

Researchers at Stanford University's School of Medicine and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have found that peanut-allergic patients who have undergone desensitization treatment have altered DNA methylation levels.

This means those levels could be markers to use when testing patients during other allergy therapies.

Researchers studied blood samples of the graduating patients from a desensitization program, finding that those who had better peanut tolerances than when they entered the two-year program also had fewer methyl groups attached to their regulatory T cells. This methylation change was located at a gene called FOXP3, which is known to play a role in allergic responses.

Researchers plan to expand study

The next step for the researchers at Stanford is to undertake a larger study involving about 120 people (the current study had only 9) before possibly testing the theory with patients who've undergone desensitization therapy for other allergies.

The Nadeau Lab at Stanford published the study online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on January 31.

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