June 2016 Food Allergy Research Roundup


Exciting developments in allergy research have taken place over the past couple months. Here is a brief summary of the latest findings, including a study regarding celiac disease that is just beginning.

Nanoparticle “Trojan” May Relieve Allergies

Cour Pharmaceuticals Development Co. is currently developing nanoparticle technology for use in clinical trials for the treatment of celiac disease. The technology was first used in mice to treat asthma. The nanoparticles are injected with the allergen and then introduced into the body. These biodegradable particles keep the allergen within its protective shell and are then consumed by a vacuum-cleaner cell called a macrophage. This process tricks the immune system into seeing the particle as harmless debris instead of as a threat. The nanoparticles are composed of “an FDA-approved biopolymer called PLGA that includes lactic acid and glycolic acid.” Researchers believe these nanoparticles have a second benefit as well: they increase the regulatory T cell count, which helps balance the immune system.

Skin Barrier Defects May Signal Food Allergies

A study from Cork University Maternity Hospital in Ireland reveals that skin barrier defects are often a warning sign of food allergies, even when eczema isn’t present. The researchers believe this correlation may aid in diagnosing babies with food allergies even before they leave the hospital. Newborns in the study who had an allergic parent with neonatal transepidermal water loss in the top 25 percent were almost 20 times more prone to food allergies by age 2, as compared with children who fell in the lowest 25 percent. The findings were presented in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and more studies and clinical trials surrounding this new information are expected to take place in the near future.

Video Summarizes Results of EAT Study

The New England Journal of Medicine posted a short video that documents the results of an EAT (Enquiring About Tolerance) trial, designed to discover whether introducing common allergenic foods to high risk-babies can reduce the rates of allergy. In the trial, half the children were introduced to potentially triggering foods (cow’s milk, cooked egg, white fish, wheat, peanuts and sesame) by 3 months, and the others weren’t introduced to these foods until 6 months. All babies in the trial were exclusively breast fed until the introduction of these foods. The study found that while introducing common allergenic foods before 6 months can help stave off allergy, there was no benefit to introducing these foods earlier.

Celiac Program at Harvard Medical School Begins Clinical Trial

The Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, and the Celiac Program at Harvard Medical School have teamed up to create the Celiac Disease Genomic Environmental Microbiome and Metabolic Study (CDGEMM). One hundred babies have been enrolled in this study—40 from Italy and 60 from the U.S. The study aims to investigate the potential impact that delivery mode and feeding mode may have on children during the first year of life. The researchers will analyze microbiome composition, with support from the National Institute of Health (NIH).