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News

Mechanism for suppressing mite allergens by Plasmacluster Ions explained a World First

Sharp Electronics (Europe) GmbH : 10 January, 2007  (Technical Article)
Plasmacluster Ion technology, which Sharp developed in 2000, is an air purification system that removes harmful airborne substances by releasing positive and negative ions into the air. Working in collaboration with research institutions around the world, Sharp subsequently proved that Plasmacluster Ions can suppress the activity of a total of 26 kinds of bacteria, mold fungi, viruses and allergens floating in the air.
Now, in collaboration with the Graduate School of Advanced Sciences of Matter, Hiroshima University, Japan, one of the world’s leading authorities in allergy research, the mechanism behind the action of Plasmacluster Ions to suppress the allergenic potency of mite allergens by fragmenting the protein on the surface of the allergen has been elucidated.

It is well known that proteins form the major constituent of inhalant allergens such as mite allergens. The findings of this current research made it clear that Plasmacluster Ions can be expected to be effective against a wide range of inhalant allergens.

Explaining the mite allergen suppression mechanism turns out to shed light on the mechanisms for suppressing all sorts of harmful substances (bacteria, viruses, allergens) that have been proven thus far. As the leading manufacturer of air purification technology, Sharp will continue to work toward further innovations in Plasmacluster Ion technology based on these results.

Mechanism for Suppressing Mite Allergens by Plasmacluster Ions

Motivation for Explaining the Mechanism
Since the successful development of Plasmacluster Ions in 2000, Sharp has worked with authoritative independent organizations at the cutting edge of their fields based on a collaborative research approach to product marketing to scientifically prove the effectiveness of these ions in suppressing various types of bacteria, viruses and allergens. However, myriad types of these harmful airborne substances exist, and testing the effectiveness of Plasmacluster Ions against all of these individually would be difficult and time-consuming. Consequently, their effect on a wide range of harmful substances could be predicted if it were possible to elucidate the suppression mechanism, which lies at the root of their effectiveness. Thanks to the success in explaining the suppression mechanism against mite allergens, the suppression mechanisms against all sorts of harmful substances that have thus far been demonstrated have come to be understood.

Allergens include mites, pollen, mold fungi, pet dander and the like, and are said to be a major constituent of house dust that can be harmful to health. Through this current mechanism explanation, it became clear that the effectiveness of Plasmacluster Ions against a wide range of such protein-based allergens could be anticipated.

Fragmentation of Proteins in Mite Allergens by Plasmacluster Ions
In allergy sufferers, IgE antibodies*8 cover the surface of mast cells present in the mucosal epithelia and tissues of the throat and nose. When an allergen protein contained in dead mites or their fecal pellets binds with the IgE antibody, irritant substances such as histamine are released outside the cell walls, irritating the mucosa of the nose and throat and evoking an allergic reaction, which can include coughing, sneezing and runny nose.

To investigate how Plasmacluster Ions act on the proteins in mite allergens, we used an electrophoresis method to perform a qualitative analysis of the proteins. As a result, we confirmed that the protein, which is the cause of the allergy, is destroyed by the ion treatment.

This means that Plasmacluster Ions do not simply denature the protein, that is, change only its structure, but rather they suppress the allergen by rupturing and destroying the allergen protein by fragmentation.

Overview of Plasmacluster Ion Technology
A plasma discharge generates positive ions (H+) and negative ions (O2–) from water vapor in the air. These ions have the property of clustering around micro-particles, and thus, they surround harmful substances such as airborne mold fungi, viruses and allergens. At that point, a chemical reaction occurs on the cell membrane surface, and the ions are transformed into OH radicals, a powerfully active but unstable material, which robs the harmful substance of a hydrogen atom. As a result, the OH radicals inactivate the harmful substances by severing the protein on the cell membrane, opening holes. The OH radicals instantly bond with the removed hydrogen, forming water vapor, and return to the air.

1) The Plasmacluster Ions are the same positive and negative ions found in abundance in nature, for example, in woods and forests. They turn into OH radicals only on the surface of harmful substances to inactivate them, so they are completely harmless to the human body. The amount of ozone generated is less than 0.01 ppm, significantly below the 0.05-ppm value set as the standard for industry and for electrical equipment.

2) Compared to passive air cleaning systems that trap airborne contaminants by using a fan to draw air through a filter, air purification systems based on Plasmacluster Ions effectively eliminate harmful substances by working directly on the air contained in the entire room.

3) The Plasmacluster Ion generator never loses its effectiveness by becoming dirty and never needs replacing like filters. It consumes a miniscule amount of electricity (0.15 W). Annual electricity costs for continuous use are around ¥30.
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