Researchers may have now stumbled upon the cause of an autoimmune disease that has baffled the medical industry for decades. Scientists who have been researching about the Kawasaki disease have discovered that one probable cause is an airborne toxin that may have been brought by the seasonal winds into Japan from northeast China.
Kawasaki disease has been first reported in Japan in 1967 by a Japanese pediatrician, Tomisaku Kawasaki. Its symptoms are fever, rashes, in some instances also causes peeling of the fingernails and for the more serious, coronary aneurysm. Jane Burns, professor and director of the Kawasaki Disease Research Center at the San Diego School of Medicine from the University of California noted, “There are certainly other source regions around the globe, but focusing on the link between northeastern China, Japan, Hawaii and the west coast of North America is our best bet for figuring this out.” The reason for this premise is that more cases of the disease are reported during the period when winds in Japan come from a farming region in northeastern China. After taking samples of the air using air filter equipment, the team discovered an airborne fungus called Candida. Candida is a known for causing various kinds of fungal infection all over the world. Upon further testing, however, research mice exposed to Candida developed coronary artery syndrome, much like those encountered in severe forms of the Kawasaki disease.
The team hypothesized that winds blowing from China may have encountered a kind of pathogenic airborne toxin as it passes through grain farms in the area. The grain farm is a probable cause as analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated that the disease could have been caused by a “pre-formed toxin or environmental molecule.” Associate professor of Pediatrics from New York University Langone Medical Center, Colin Phoon lauded the research as “innovative” and added that additional air sampling must be done to further break down the cause, “which may in turn lead to more effective treatments.”
[via Channel News Asia]