The presence of different strains of grass pollen in the atmosphere can help predict when hay fever and asthma could strike, according to a study. The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, used plant DNA methods to identify and track different strains of pollen.
"Using this method, we may be able to better predict when allergenic pollen is present and allow people affected by asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and rhinitis to more effectively manage their condition," said Nicholas Osborne, Associate Professor at the University of Queensland in Australia.
The research tracked grass pollen for seasonal variations and found it was released into the atmosphere later in areas further from the equator. "That tells us that that grass pollen exposure changes substantially across the allergy season," Osborne said in a statement. "With the advent of personalised medicine, more and more people are becoming aware of which allergen is responsible for their allergy," he said.
Osborne said the research would help allergy sufferers prepare for the hay fever season and doctors to prescribe more personalised treatments. "People who fail to manage their asthma are at greater risk of asthma attack and being forced to visit hospital emergency departments," he said."Having a more accurate forecast of when a patient is at risk will allow people to better manage their disease," Osborne said.
Scientists hope to expand on the research to create a unique profile of each grass pollen species to determine the most harmful strains. "We hope to use this data to examine if particular grass species are more allergenic than others," Osborne said.