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Regulating Immunity: Toxicologists seek novel gene therapies

Dioxin, the chemical pollutant made infamous by Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange, has long been known to suppress immune function in humans and other animals. Surprisingly, this dangerous side effect has a scientific silver lining. While studying the toxinā€™s health effects, researchers discovered the genetic pathway to immune system malfunction. For people who would actually benefit from suppressed immunity ā€” those suffering from autoimmune and allergic diseases ā€” this clue may lead to better therapies.