Mast Cell Disease In The News: Two New Interesting Discoveries

A couple of interesting discoveries recently in the science and research aspect of mast cell disease starting with this piece about the relationship between mast cells and chronic urticaria (hives) from Australia:

One in five people experience hives in their lifetime as an allergic reaction but a small number of people suffer hives, known as chronic spontaneous uticaria, that can last for years without an apparent cause.

In a study published on Monday, a team from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) found that the condition is an auto-immune disease rather than an allergic reaction.

Priscilla Auyeng, a scientist at WEHI and immunologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said that in most people with uticaria immune cells were reacting to a molecule on mast cells in the skin to produce the hives.

She said that the finding had led to the beginning of a study into “switching off” the abnormal response.

“We don’t know why this disease starts, but somewhere along the line the immune system generated this response to a molecule on the mast cell,” Auyeng told Australian media on Monday.

“This is an important finding because there is still no reliable test to diagnose it.

“In the clinic, we diagnose it after excluding all other diseases and after lots of tests.

“Studies show the impact on quality of life is as significant as it is for people with heart disease. Even doctors underestimate the impact it has on patients.”

I highlighted the best parts in red. I really found it interesting that they call it an “auto-immune” mast cell disorder. I do hope they find a way to “switch off” the immune response. As a patient I am rooting for these scientists who are hard at work down under trying to ease my suffering.

I also love that the research scientist, Priscilla Auyeng, made a point to discuss the difficulty of getting a proper diagnosis and also the impact mast cell disease (in all of its forms) can have on a person’s life. It’s so important that the medical community and the public in general recognize the severity of disability this disease can impose. I know, I am a prisoner in my own home thanks to MCAS.

The next bit of interesting news comes from India where they tested cedrol and found it prevented anaphylaxis in mice:

Background: Type I hypersensitivity is an allergic reaction characterized by the overactivity of the immune system provoked by normally harmless substances. Glucocorticoids, anti-histamines, or mast cell stabilizers are the choices of treatment for type I hypersensitivity. Even though these drugs have the anti-allergic effect, they can have several side effects in prolong use. Cedrol is the main bioactive compound of Cedrus atlantica with anti-tumor, anti-oxidative, and platelet-activating factor inhibiting properties.

 

Conclusion: Administration of CR-NLC 24 hours before the onset of anaphylaxis can prevent an anaphylactoid reaction. NLCs could be a promising vehicle for the oral delivery of cedrol to protect anaphylactic reactions.

Well that sounds promising, especially for the “shockers” among us.

So what exactly is cedrol? I Googled it since I didn’t know for sure what Cedrus atlantica was but had a hunch it was a cedar tree and that cedrol is cedar oil (because it sounds like “cedar oil” said really fast together!) and I was right:

Cedrol is a sesquiterpene alcohol found in the essential oil of conifers (cedar oil), especially in the genera Cupressus (cypress) and Juniperus (juniper). It has also been identified in Origanum onites, a plant related to oregano. Its main uses are in the chemistry of aroma compounds. It makes up about 19% of cedarwood oil Texas and 15.8% of cedarwood oil Virginia.

Cedrol has toxic and possibly carcinogenic properties.

Well that last bit kinda puts a damper on things then, doesn’t it. Still, at least there are dedicated researchers out there trying to figure this out.

I wish them luck. We are ALL in this mast cell craziness together.

 

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