There's no such thing as good vibrations for those suffering from "the vibration allergy." Yes, that's a real thing. The rare inherited condition, known formally as vibratory urticarial, causes an allergic reaction in patients during the most mundane exercises—think mowing the lawn, jogging, riding the bus, or even clapping, explains Popular Science. Headaches, fatigues, and a case of the hives are typical symptoms, though they're usually short-lived. Now scientists at the National Institutes of Health say they've zeroed in on what causes the problem, and the discovery could shed light on the little-understood way our genes affect the allergies we get, reports Motherboard. After studying the DNA of patients with a three-generation family history of the condition, 36 people in all, researchers identified a shared mutation on a gene called ADGRE2.
Essentially, the mutation causes the body's ADGRE2 protein—present on the surface of cells known as mast cells that play a role in the immune system—to be a little shaky, the researchers explain in the New England Journal of Medicine. Random vibrations can break the protein apart, and when a break occurs, the mast cells fear something is attacking the body and release inflammatory chemicals such as histamines that trigger an allergic reaction, reports Medical Daily. “This work marks, to the best of our knowledge, the first identification of a genetic basis for a mast-cell-mediated urticaria induced by a mechanical stimulus,” says a federal researcher who co-authored the study. Scientists hope to next look for additional mutations in the hope of developing treatments or perhaps even a cure. (This rare disease traced to a gene mutation affects only one family.)