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Enzyme Key to Sensitivity Reactions

Everett Herald
  Tuesday, August 4, 1998
  page C1 and C2

By Andrew Wineke

Why does a single whiff of a chemical make some people seriously ill,
while others don't even notice it?

Researchers at the University of Washington, working with a team at
the University of California at Los Angeles, have begun to map out how
differently people can react to the same pesticides and chemicals. Some
results of their research were published earlier this month in the science
journal Nature.

Using common pesticides called organophosphates, such as diazinon,
chlorpyrifos and parathion, the scientists have shown that one person
can be 100 times as sensitive to a particular chemical as another person.

The research has also shown that babies start life with almost no
resistance to these pesticides.

"A little bit of difference in metabolism can make a lot of difference in
response," says Clem Furlong, a professor in the UW's Department of
Environmental Health.

The differences stem from an enzyme produced by the body. Apparently,
the same enzyme that is a contributing factor for vascular disease also
regulates resistance to some pesticides.

"Someone with low levels of that enzyme [either through depletion of
the enzyme by repeated exposures or natural predisposition] would be
very susceptible to those pesticides," Furlong says.

One outcome of the research is the hope the scientist can develop an
injectable enzyme
that would counteract the effects of the insecticides
and nerve agents, such as sarin, which was used in the Tokyo subway

There may never be magic bullet to cure chemical sensitivity, however.
No one enzyme or gene can fix all varieties of chemical sensitivities.

...    By Andrew Wineke, Everett Herald, Tuesday, August 4, 1998, p C1 & C2

 For more information on this enzyme, please read about Dr.
Clement Furlong's research on the enzyme -- paraoxonase.

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