Farm dust found to protect against asthma, allergies, may lead to vaccine

Children who grow up on farms have fewer allergies than city children and researchers in Europe think they have figured out why. Turns out farm dirt might be helping to protect them.

Scientists from the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology and Ghent University in Belgium examined 2,000 children, who grew up on farms and found that significantly fewer suffer from allergies or asthma when compared to the general population. More than 80 per cent of people with asthma also have an allergy.

“At this point, we have revealed an actual link between farm dust and protection against asthma and allergies,” said Bart Lambrecht, a professor of pulmonary medicine at Ghent University, adding that they also conducted experiments on mice to establish the link.

“We did this by exposing mice to farm dust extract from Germany and Switzerland. These tests revealed that the mice were fully protected against house dust mite allergy, the most common cause for allergies in humans,” he said.

Farm dust “makes the mucous membrane inside the respiratory tracts react less severely to allergens such as house dust mite” due to a protein called A20,” he added.

When the group examined people who suffered allergies and asthma, they found many had a deficiency in the protein A20.

The findings, published in the US Journal of Science could help lead to a vaccine one day.


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