German scientists have linked allergy illnesses including dermatitis, hay fever and asthma to a gene in 8 percent of European populations that deprives them of an essential skin protein.
A missing skin protein is responsible for certain allergies
A study of 3,000 Munich schoolchildren produced the proof that a lack of the protein filaggrin, found in skin cells, is associated with skin allergies. The study, released on Wednesday, July 24, tracked down variants of the gene that produces the protein.
Allergy rates have been soaring in western nations in recent years. Scientists blame the disease on a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
The study was conducted by the Munich Helmholtz Center and the Technical University of Munich.
With certain variants of the gene, a patient was three times as likely to suffer from atopic dermatitis and was also more liable to have hay fever, the study found.
Variants of the filaggrin gene were also associated with dandruff and contact dermatitis, for example rashes caused by nickel jewelry.
Filaggrin is essential to the formation of the epidermis, the hard outer layer of human skin. The scientists said the next move would be to develop a skin cream that could promote filaggrin production or provide a substitute.