A quite number of people affected by allergy in eating peanuts has increased considerably over the past 2 to 3 decades, the Dundee research team said.
Dr Sara Brown, a fellow at Dundee University, said that investigation whether Filaggrin was a cause of peanut allergy was the “logical next step” after a link with eczema and asthma had been established.
The findings – by scientists from Canada, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands – have been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Their research discovered that the Filaggrin gene helped to make the skin a good barrier against irritants and allergens.
But changes in the gene decreased the effectiveness of this barrier, allowing substances to enter the body and leading to a range of allergic conditions.
The study suggests one in five of all peanut allergy sufferers have a Filaggrin defect. Those with the defect can be three times more likely to suffer peanut allergy than people with normal Filaggrin.
Professor McLean, who is also based at Dundee University, said the Filaggrin defect was not the only cause of peanut allergy – but had been established as a factor in many cases.
He added that as Filaggrin defects were found in only 20 percent of the peanut allergy cases, there was still a lot of work to be done to understand fully the genetic link to the allergy.