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Aussie Nobel Prize winner develops drug to counter allergies, asthma

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-25 09:59

An Australian Nobel Prize-winning scientist has turned his attention to developing a drug to counter allergies and asthma.

Barry Marshall, a microbiology professor at the University of Western Australia (UWA) who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for stomach ulcer research, is working on the medication, named Immbalance, that aims to suppress an overactive immune system.

"This actually arose from work we were doing on helicobacter, the stomach bug, for which Dr (Robin) Warren and I won the Nobel Prize a few years ago," Marshall said on Friday.

"We've discovered the way it survives in your body is by suppressing the immune system so you can't get rid of it.

"I can't guarantee that it's going to cure allergy sufferers... we think this kind of thing will bring people who are hyper reactive... down into the normal range."

Marshall, who has spent the last seven years developing the drug, said that it can be formulated as tablets, capsules, liquids or powder.

"Children could spread the powder on their cereal or put it in a drink and over the course of a few months could suppress their allergic response," he said in a UWA media release on Friday.

"We think it's going to be 100 percent safe. It won't remove your immune system; it will just take the edge off."

Australia has one of the highest allergy rates in the world with referalls for food allergies increasing 10-fold in the last decade as hospitalizations for severe food-related allergic reactions or anaphylaxis went up five-fold.

"It appears when everything is very clean and children aren't exposed to enough infectious or non-infectious bacteria the immune system can get ramped up," Marshall said.

"They then can become more reactive to all kinds of new proteins in their diet or susceptible to pollen in the air."

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