La Jolla Institute For Allergy and Immunology - Research - Allergy and Asthma Research

Allergy and Asthma Research

Kimishige Ishizaka, M.D., Ph.D., the Institute's first Scientific Director, received worldwide recognition in 1966 for his discovery of the IgE protein, an antibody that plays a key role in allergic disease. Today, scientists use molecular tools to unravel the remaining mysteries of allergic reactions, seeking to develop tools to treat and prevent allergies. "Ten to 20 percent of the population of industrialized countries suffers from some form of allergies," said Institute scientist Toshiaki Kawakami, M.D., Ph.D. "There is a huge need to understand this disease and to find therapeutic interventions."

Asthma accounts for one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the U.S. each year. It might come as a surprise to many that asthma results from the good intentions of the body, gone bad. Asthma can occur when T cells, the body's disease-fighting cells, respond to a stimulus and cause inflammation of the bronchial tubes, making breathing difficult. Michael Croft, Ph.D., and Institute President Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., are studying ways to stop the overzealous response from the immune system's T cells, which occurs due to contact with an external allergen such as those from pollen.

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