MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH: Researchers who understand "'nouveau technologies' of biology" are needed to develop allergy treatments, notes Hoechst Marion Roussel’s Martin Wasserman.
It happens like clockwork: allergy season. Every spring, more than 20 million Americans sneeze, wheeze, and curse the flowers. But if scientists have their way, things might be different in the years to come. Across the United States, biotech and university labs are unraveling the basic biochemistry behind allergies. The effort should lead to new drugs and improved therapies-and jobs for researchers who design them.

Allergies are the immune system's way of overreacting. After growing sensitized to allergens-like pollen, pet dander, and dust-the body's immune system responds to these chemicals whenever they appear. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Americans spend $2 billion annually seeking allergy relief. Antihistamines, the classic form of drug relief, block histamine, a critical chemical in the allergic response.


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