What do patients with a life-threatening reaction to red meat after being bitten by the Ixodes holocyclus tick have in common with colorectal cancer patients? A carbohydrate found in all mammals except primates called galactose-alpha- 1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal.
Australian allergy specialist Sheryl van Nunen got her red meat allergy mystery solved when there was a surge in allergic reactions in the U.S. to a drug, Cetuximab, used to treat colorectal cancer developed using a mouse cell line, also containing alpha-gal.
If you haven’t read the articles on vaccines, please do.
Some vaccines used to be run through mouse brains. This is important to know as mice are one of the biggest reservoirs for borrelia, the causative agent known to cause Lyme Disease.
Evidently, this is the only situation in which a trigger has been traced directly to developing an allergy. Nunen states, “We’ve got the provoking factor – something that changes the immune system – which is the tick.”
Or is it? Maybe it’s what’s in the mouse.
Nunen also has a unique way of removing ticks. Rather than using tweezers, her mantra is “freeze it, don’t squeeze it”. She educates that tweezers and other methods cause the tick to regurgitate it’s stomach contents into you, while using an ether-containing spray, like those used to treat warts, freeze the tick killing it instantly.