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August 22, 1980

A new age in asthma research: study of chemical mediators

JAMA. 1980;244(8):745-747. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310080003001

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Thirty-four years of research culminated early this year in both the elucidation of the structure and the in vitro synthesis of slow-reacting substance of anaphylaxis (SRS) by a team of scientists from Boston and Stockholm.

The new information about SRS adds to a rapidly expanding body of knowledge about the natural chemicals that produce asthmatic symptoms. Many experts in this field think that these mediators lead to both allergic and nonallergic asthma, since they originate from mast cells and mast cells respond to many stimuli other than the antibody involved in allergy (IgE). Thus, this work potentially could benefit patients with a wide range of respiratory illnesses.

A second molecule that has been isolated, analyzed, and synthesized in the last year and is believed to be involved in allergic reactions is platelet-activating factor (PAF). Work on SRS has overshadowed progress on PAF, partly because SRS has a longer history—40 years