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Published on Nov 6, 2012
The amino acid sequence of peanut allergen AraH1 converted to music.
Our immune system protects us from infections and injury. Our immune system is very complex, relying on both cell-mediated immunity (B and T lymphocytes) and production of antibodies. Such is the complexity of the system, it can sometimes over-react, attacking a foreign, but harmless substance, such as components of our food. Peanut allergy is one such example, and is caused by an immune response to peanut proteins.
Substances that cause an allergic reaction are called Allergens. Common allergens are pollen (hay fever), dead dust mites and their excrement, and proteins on animal fur. A serious allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal condition. A large amount of a chemical called histamine is released from mast cells, which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and narrowing of the airways. Peanuts can trigger anaphylaxis, as can the penicillin, and insect stings. Luckily, this condition is rare!