The search for the missing link involved mouse eczema model studies led by Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and bench work on cells and human skin tissue at Manchester.
The scientists also studied six other species of staphylococci, as well as the common Group A strep which causes tonsillitis and scarlet fever, but none generated allergic responses.
In each part of the study, the results pointed to Sbi – first discovered in 1998 – as the trigger.
Dr Pennock, from The University of Manchester said: “Our primary aim was to understand why Staphylococcus aureus is so uniquely associated with allergic reactions in skin.
“The precise mechanism that drives the allergic pathology in eczema patients has been a mystery, until now.
“Staphylococcus aureus expresses many virulence factors so finding the right protein was a challenge. We have shown that only golden Staph that expresses Sbi is capable of causing the allergic skin response.
”Now our aim is to learn more about Sbi in order to lay the groundwork for future non-steroid treatments. We are very grateful to the Leo Foundation for continuing to fund this exciting work. ‘’
The paper Staphylococcus aureus Second Immunoglobulin-Binding Protein drives atopic 2 dermatitis via IL-33 is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology