Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Congratulations are in order for Anant Parekh, Professor of Physiology here in the Department, and postdoctoral scientist Yu-Ping Lin, whose paper has recently been accepted by Molecular Cell. 

Their paper, entitled The allergen Der p3 from house dust mite stimulates store-operated Ca2+ channels and mast cell migration through PAR4 receptors,  looks at a radical new approach to combating asthma. 

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways and is estimated to affect more than 300 million people worldwide. In the clinic, asthma presents with a range of phenotypes indicating it is a heterogeneous disease and it is poorly controlled by current therapies in an increasing cohort of patients.

One strategy is to target risk factors that are associated with the development of asthma. These factors include genetic predisposition and environmental influences such as exposure to inhaled allergens, particularly those derived from the pyroglyphid house dust mite.

The house dust mite is the principal source of perennial allergen in humans and the European Community Respiratory Health Survey I has reported a prevalence for asthma with house dust mite sensitisation as high as 21%; although there was significant geographic variation between member states. The primary allergens in Dermatophagoides Pteronyssinus are the Der p proteins, of which there are more than twenty.

Allergens from house dust mite stimulate multiple cell types in the lung to release chemical signals that help orchestrate the subsequent inflammatory response. Interventions that impair the ability of mite allergens to activate the immune system should therefore be of significant therapeutic benefit. One way to accomplish this would be to reduce indoor exposure to mite allergens. This approach has spawned a lucrative domestic mite-removal industry but a meta-analysis of randomized studies found no beneficial effect of these manoeuvres on asthma.

An alternative strategy is to understand how house dust mite-derived allergens activate immune cells and the airway remodelling process that is characteristic of chronic asthma, as this will better inform focused drug design for more effective treatments. 

This new study from Parekh, Lin, and their colleagues has found that house dust mite activates calcium channels in different cell types that are all involved in the pathogenesis of asthma and opening of the Ca2+ channels stimulates immune cell activity. Although the dust mite contains many allergens, Lin et al. discovered that just one particular allergen, Der p3 was the key molecule that activates the channels. They went on to demonstrate that a combination therapy targeting both the calcium channels and Der p3 suppressed immune cell activation, raising the real possibility of a new treatment for combating asthma. 


To learn more about the research carried out by Parekh, Lin and their lab group, visit their web page.

Similar stories

Drug could help diabetic hearts recover after a heart attack

New research led by Associate Professor Lisa Heather has found that a drug known as molidustat, currently in clinical trials for another condition, could reduce risk of heart failure after heart attacks.

Blood bank storage can reduce ability of transfusions to treat anaemia

New research from the Swietach Group in collaboration with NHS Blood and Transplant has demonstrated that the process of storing blood in blood banks can negatively impact the function of red blood cells and consequently may reduce the effectiveness of blood transfusions, a treatment commonly used to combat anaemia.

Overlapping second messengers increase dynamic control of physiological responses

New research from the Parekh and Zaccolo groups reveals that a prototypical anchoring protein, known to be responsible for regulating several important physiological processes, also orchestrates the formation of two important universal second messengers.

Feeling tired? Here’s how the brain’s ‘hourglass’ controls your need for sleep – new research

New article on The Conversation website written by Dr Lukas Krone, Associate Professor Vladyslav Vyazovskiy and Professor Zoltán Molnár.

Scientists Decipher How NeuroImmune Interactions Burn Deep Fat

A pioneering collaborative mouse study from an international team of researchers including DPAG's Associate Professor Ana Domingos published in Nature offers new therapeutic avenues for reducing visceral fat stores, which have been associated with cardiovascular disease and multiple types of cancer.