Summer 2017 Food Allergy Research Roundup

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New developments in the world of food allergies occur frequently. Below is some of the latest research on causes and treatment. Visit us again soon for more updates.


New Allergy Treatment Could Reduce or Prevent Reaction in Accidental Exposures

A new approach in the treatment of food allergies combines the use of oral immunotherapy (OIT) and omalizumab, an anti-IgE monoclonal antibody, to reduce or eliminate allergic reaction, even in people with high risk food allergies. This study focused on patients with severe reactions to peanut and milk. In as little as 8 weeks, children with severe peanut and milk allergies were desensitized to exposure. It is unclear whether the desensitization was due to “immunological tolerance” of, or “sustained nonresponsiveness” to, the allergen. More studies are currently being conducted to adequately determine dosing frequency and amount, as well as a controlled study of combined OIT and omalizumab therapy, with patients who have severe peanut allergy, in four locations: Boston Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and Stanford University in California.

Certain Gut Bacteria May Prevent Food Allergies

Researchers have identified specific bacteria that naturally occur in the gut, which may protect against the development of food allergies. The rise of antibiotic use has resulted in the alteration of naturally occurring intestinal bacteria in many people. Scientists observed a simultaneous rise in the number of allergy issues in children. Mouse studies showed a strong correlation to altered gut bacteria, specifically the group of bacteria known as Clostridia, and allergic reaction to peanuts. The introduction of Clostridia into the gut affected immune function and allergic response to the peanut allergen. The same response was not observed with the introduction of other naturally occurring gut bacteria. Further studies need to be conducted to figure out how Clostridia affects the immune system and allergic response.

Blood Tests to Determine Severity of Allergy and the Role of DNA in Allergic Reaction

Scientists at Stanford University are working to develop a diagnostic allergy test (DAT) to better determine potential for and severity of allergic reaction, and a therapeutic exam for allergy (TEA) to determine which genes play a role in allergic response. Both tests aim to remove the actual allergic reaction from testing. The idea is to test blood samples for reaction and gene involvement. Thus, patients, particularly young children, do not have to risk or experience actual exposure to allergens. Studies suggest that the DAT is 95 percent accurate in identifying allergies, compared with 65 percent accuracy with standard IgE testing. Accuracy levels hold for infants, small children and adults.

Study Shows Avoidance May Raise Infants’ Risk of Developing Peanut Allergy

recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine now says that it might be more advantageous to introduce, rather than avoid, peanuts to infants who are at high risk for developing peanut allergy. Research showed that of 600 high risk infants between 4 and 11 months of age exposed to peanuts, only 3 percent developed a peanut allergy by the time they were 5 years old. But of infants the same age who avoided peanuts, 17 percent developed a peanut allergy by the time they were 5 years old. While more studies are needed to confirm findings, researchers believe they may have been wrong about the efficacy of avoidance in the development of peanut allergy.

Stef PenrodComment