Allergy falls squarely into the class of common disorders caused by interaction between a genetic predisposition and an environmental stimulus. Genetic approaches are revolutionising the treatment of many primary immunodeficiencies, which are caused by single gene defects, but are unlikely to be of therapeutic value in the short term for multifactorial allergic disorders such as asthma, rhinitis and eczema. Nevertheless, advances have been made in our understanding and management of these disorders, which together are among the five most common conditions for which people consult their general practitioners.
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