Finally some good news for anyone who stumbles into a patch of poison ivy, poison oak or sumac: researchers have identified the precise molecule in our skin that plays a role in the inflammation.
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For decades, scientists have suspected that a molecule in the immune system, molecule CD1a, comes in contact with Urushiol, an oil resin found in the plants, inflammation can be triggered. Scientists confirmed the connection in the fall of this year, cites tests on mice engineered to carry CD1a.
Now that the specific molecule has been identified, Harvard Medical School immunologist Florian Winau published the study in August’s Nature Immunology magazine and began to work with pharmaceutical companies to develop an anti-CD1a antibody.
Beyond treating the inflammation caused by the plant’s resin, Winau also suggested the antibody could be used to treat psoriasis, which is also caused by inflammation interacting with fatty acids in the skin.
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