Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - 05:44
Like many people I know, I suffer from allergies, and sometimes asthma. I take drugs to control the symptoms, but they don't cure the condition. Plus, I know there can be side effects that might not be so pleasant. This is why I like hearing about sequencing projects that target the VDJ-ome. I have this fantasy about the things we could do with that information In a normal immune response (diagrammed below), antibodies on the surface of immature B cells bind to allergens (pollen, dust, whatever). That binding event, plus some help from T cells, stimulates those immature B cells and causes them to grow. Some of those stimulated B cells become memory cells. They hang around, in case the allergen reappears. Other B cells go on to become plasma cells. They produce and secret antibodies. In the case of allergies, those antibodies are IgE. IgE binds to the surface of basophils and mast cells. When IgE binds allergens, those cells release cytokines that do lots of nasty things including making your eyes red and your nose run.
Note: This diagram only shows some of the things that happen in an immune response. In my fantasy, we use the sequence of the rearranged VDJ region to find and kill those B cells before they can cause me problems. Oh, yeah and the memory B cells too!