Mast cells play a critical role in type 1 hypersensitivity reactions. Indeed, mast cell mediators are implicated in many different conditions including allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, psoriasis, mastocytosis and the progression of many different cancers. Thus, there is intense interest in the development of agents which prevent mast cell mediator release or which inhibit the actions of such mediators once released into the environment of the cell. Much progress into the design of new agents has been made since the initial discovery of the mast cell stabilising properties of khellin from Ammi visnaga and the clinical approval of cromolyn sodium. This review critically examines the progress that has been made in the intervening years from the design of new agents that target a specific signalling event in the mast cell degranulation pathway to those agents which have been developed where the precise mechanism of action remains elusive. Particular emphasis is also placed on clinically used drugs for other indications that stabilise mast cells and how this additional action may be harnessed for their clinical use in disease processes where mast cells are implicated.
Keywords: Immunoglobulin E (IgE); Mast cells; Stabilisers; Tyrosine kinases.
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