How palynology and aldehydes affect allergy treatment
History leads us to an experimental drug that degrades the aldehyde complex
As technology leaps forward with medicine, it is prudent at times to appreciate how far we have come in managing and treating allergic eye disease. In fact, let us look back to the beginning in ancient Rome with the first recorded case of atopy. One of these authors, Suetonius, wrote with great detail in his biographical text De vita Caeserum about the distinctive lives of the first Roman emperors.
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Subsequently, he recounts the lineage of Augustus through his great-great nephew Brittanicus who suffered from some form of atopic disease, including asthma, rhinitis, and allergic conjunctivitis due to seasonal “southern winds” to horse hair dander, respectively.1,2 These unique accounts connect antiquity to the modern world by sharing a common bond with the trials and tribulations of this disease state.
Palynology: Speeding to a landmark
The study of pollen or palynology can be traced back to 1640 with English botanist Nehemiah Grew, who predicted the relationship of these granules in the sexual reproduction of flowering plants.3 Fast forward to the late 1800s with the invention of the optical microscope, the principles of stratigraphy in reference to the fossil record allowed for a comparative between living and ancient spores.4
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Further jumping ahead came a seminal moment in 1916 by the naturalist and geologist Lennart von Post. His lecture in Kristiania (now Oslo) would set the stage for our modern quantitative analysis of pollen as a “diagram” for which opened the floodgates of research by legitimizing the link between spore morphology to climate change and the eventual causality of our understanding of allergy.5,6