July 2016 Food Allergy Research Roundup


The following are current and newly-completed studies that aim to increase the scientific understanding of food allergies and the best ways to treat those who have them. Be sure to check back next month for more.

Hospital Looking for Children Between 8 and 12 for Research Study

Hasbro Children’s Hospital is looking for children between 8 and 12 to participate in a research study in Southern New England. The study aims to get feedback from children who have allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts on the newest version of a video game designed to help kids manage their allergies. The interactive game teaches children how to avoid certain foods and be prepared for certain situations. The trial first took place in 2013 with 30 children. After their initial feedback, improvements were made to the video game, and this newest trial will help developers improve the game further.

Broad Institute Launches Food Allergy Science Initiative (FASI)

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as well as the Yale School of Medicine, is launching a Food Allergy Science Initiative (FASI) in order to understand food allergies at the cellular level. The initiative will cross various medical disciplines, including gastroenterology, molecular biology, bioengineering and immunology in order to understand not only what to do in the case of a food allergy, but also why food allergies develop. The initiative will be funded by various families and individuals for about $10 million. The Broad Institute funds research efforts of leading scientists who work to transform medicine and who partner with public and private institutions around the globe.

Study Shows Fiber Deficiency May Contribute to Peanut Allergy

A study conducted at Monash University in Australia shows that a fiber deficiency may create an increased risk of peanut allergy. The study used mice in control groups to determine how gut bacteria and fatty acids help suppress the immune response. Short-chain fatty acids bind onto T regulatory cell receptors, which contribute to regulating inflammation in the gut. The mice artificially induced with a peanut allergy that were also fed a high-fiber diet had a lesser allergic response than the mice that were not given a high-fiber diet. The researchers of the study believe that a centuries-long increase in fats and sugars, along with a decrease in fiber, may have created a current predisposition to peanut allergies.

Patch With Slow-Release Exposure May Increase Tolerance to Allergen

Colorado’s Children’s Hospital is currently performing a study to determine whether a slow-release patch can help patients increase their tolerance to an allergen. The patch is placed on the child’s back and releases small amounts of the allergen under the observation of the hospital’s Food Challenge Unit. Patients return to the hospital periodically to have the amount of the allergen increased. The goal of the study is to see whether patients can be desensitized enough to not have a severe reaction if they accidentally ingest a small amount of the allergen. The study should be complete in a few months.