Since my son suffers from many allergies I am always on the look-out for good articles on how this condition can be minimized. I am particularly intrigued by the "hygiene hypothesis" which presumes that rate at which people suffer from allergies has increased because children growing up in cities and suburbs are not regularly exposed to pathogens and parasites as their rural counterparts. This contrast is more evident in more affluent countries, perhaps because city dwellers in less affluent countries are less likely to have access to clean food and drinking water. This article provides some of the first hard evidence for the therapeutic effects of "farm dust". It appears that farm dust triggers the production of a protein called "A20" in the mucus membranes which lowers the allergic response. The researchers are using this information to develop a vaccine.

What might be the key ingredient of farm dust that triggers the presence of A20? Interestingly, the minority of farm children who suffer from allergies despite their exposure to farm dust were found to have a defective version of the gene producing this protein.