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The Science Of Hay Fever... Are Parasitic Worms The Cure?

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 Biology   |   Health   |   Science
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Hay fever has an awful habit of ruining what should be the nicest time of the year. But what is it? And why is it called ‘hay fever’? Kate explores the science of allergies, and hunts through the research for a cure.
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How to prevent hay fever? Hay fever isn’t caused by hay, and isn’t really a fever. Allergic rhinitis is the technical name, but what’s it all about? At its centre, hay fever is an inflammation and irritation of the mucus membranes in the nose. Wind-pollinated plants hurl their pollen into the atmosphere, which finds its way into your nose and starts to wreak havoc. Much like other allergic reactions, hay fever is the result of your body fighting off the injected pollen as if it were a disease-causing invader. Antigen presenting cells, T cells and B cells launch into a hyperactive, over enthusiastic frenzy, ultimately causing symptoms that, although crucial when fighting off real infections, are a needless frustration.

Is there a cure? Not yet, but one strand of new research is finding hope in an unlikely source: parasitic worms. The idea is that the worms alter our immune system to avoid being repelled. These alterations just might hold the key to staving off hay fever, and finding summer happiness at last.

This film is part of our series that provides the blueprint for a scientifically perfect summer. Taking a different topic each Thursday, the videos will gradually build up an equation for summer perfection; a summer survival guide certified by science.
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REFERENCES
Anthony, R.M. et al (2007) Protective immune mechanisms in helminth infection. Nature Review. Immunology 7(12): 975-987
Bostock, J. (1828). Of the Catarrhus Æstivus, or Summer Catarrh. Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, 14(2): 437–446
Bozzetto S. et al. (2012) Asthma, allergy, and respiratory infections: the vitamin D hypothesis. Allergy 67: 10–17
Carlsten, Chris et al. (2012) Air pollution, genetics, and allergy: an update. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 12(5): 455-461
Croft, A.M. et al. (2012) Helminth therapy (worms) for allergic rhinitis. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 4
Dickie, H.A. and Rankin, J. (1958) Farmer’s lung: an acute granulomatous interstitial peritonitis occurring in agricultural workers. Jama 167(9): 1069-1076
Janeway C.A. Jr. et al. (2001) Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. 5th edition. New York: Garland Science

MUSIC + SOUND
Constance by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Volatile Reaction by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Life of Riley by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Blop Sound by Mark DiAngelo
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IMAGES:
"Necator Americanus L3 x1000 12-2007" by Jasper Lawrence
Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Necator_Americanus_L3_x1000_12-2007.jpg#/media/File:Necator_Americanus_L3_x1000_12-2007.jpg
"H nana adultF" by Image contributed by the Georgia Division of Public Health. - DPDx Image Library: http://www.dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/html/imagelibrary/g%2Dl/hymenolepiasis/body_Hymenolepiasis_il6.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:H_nana_adultF.JPG#/media/File:H_nana_adultF.JPG
"Evermicularis SC posterior" by Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria (DPDM) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/HTML/ImageLibrary/A-F/Enterobiasis/body_Enterobiasis_il2.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Evermicularis_SC_posterior.jpg#/media/File:Evermicularis_SC_posterior.jpg
"Hymenolepis diminuta scolex" by Public Health Image Library of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Image #370. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hymenolepis_diminuta_scolex.jpg#/media/File:Hymenolepis_diminuta_scolex.jpg"Arabis voch1-4" by Marie Majaura - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arabis_voch1-4.jpg#/media/File:Arabis_voch1-4.jpg
Dartmouth College SEM Facility
http://remf.dartmouth.edu/images/botanicalPollenSEM/

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