September 2016 Food Allergy Research Roundup


There are some interesting new developments in the world of food allergy research. Check out what’s happening, and don’t forget to check back next month to see what else is going on in the world of research related to food allergies.


Food Allergies in Young Children May Be Tied to Antibiotic Exposure

Research at the University of South Carolina indicates that antibiotic treatment in the first year of life may be a factor in the development of food allergies. Not only does exposure to antibiotics in young children increase the risk of food allergies, but the more times antibiotics were prescribed, the more the risk increases. The odds of a food allergy diagnosis increased to 1.31 times greater if there were three prescriptions to 1.43 times with four prescriptions, and with five or more prescriptions the odds of a food allergy diagnosis increased to 1.64 times. Prescribing medical professionals should use caution before prescribing antibiotics to very young children.


Biotech and Medtech Companies Confront Rising Food Allergies

Food allergies are becoming more and more common, and in response, several companies are developing products to help patients manage these food allergies. These companies, including Antera Therapeutics and Aimmune Therapeutics, are introducing antigenic proteins to help mitigate allergic reactions by decreasing sensitivity. DBV Technologies distributes peanut proteins through a patch system to help decrease sensitivity, and they are also working on patches for eggs and milk. Alrgn Bio is working toward removing allergenic proteins from peanuts altogether. Windgap Medical is developing an auto-injector to treat anaphylaxis. A small portable device for testing food products for gluten has been developed by Nima. An emergency anaphylaxis app for smartphones has been developed by Rescufy.


Study Suggests Peanut-Allergic Preschoolers Can Safely Be Treated with Oral Immunotherapy

Research done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that giving oral immunotherapy to children with a short duration of peanut allergies may alter the course of allergic reactions and allow safe reintroduction of peanuts into the diet. During this study, 40 peanut-allergic children between the age of 9 and 36 months were randomly given a high dose or low dose regimen of oral immunotherapy (OIT). After receiving OIT for an average of 29 months, and then avoiding peanuts for four weeks, about 80 per cent of participants were able to successfully reintroduce peanuts into their diets with no allergic response. There was no significant difference between those who received high dose or low dose regimens. Researchers are continuing to monitor participants to evaluate long-term outcomes.


Gene Therapy May Protect Against Peanut Allergy with A Single Dose

At Weill Cornell Medicine, gene therapy is being developed that may eventually protect against the dangerous consequences of peanut allergies with a single dose. Currently, the drug omalizumab has been shown to protect against peanut allergies, but it is expensive and is only effective for up to four weeks. A new version of this drug is being tested on allergic mice and is effective with just a single dose.  In this research, this new version is effective both in mice that were allergic but had never had a reaction and in those that have had previous episodes of anaphylaxis. If this gene therapy works equally well in humans, one dose could offer protection throughout a person’s lifetime.