Scientists developing food allergy treatment

Dec 01, 2008

A team of scientists from across Europe are embarking on new research to develop a treatment for food allergy.

"Food allergy affects around 10 million EU citizens and there is no cure," says Dr Clare Mills of the Institute of Food Research, a lead partner in the Food Allergy Specific Therapy (FAST) research project. "All people with food allergy can do is avoid the foods to which they are allergic. The threat of severe anaphylaxis has a great impact on their quality of life."

Attempted treatment with allergen-specific immunotherapy, where a patient received monthly injections with an allergen extract for three to five years, failed because it could cause anaphylaxis as a side effect.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction involving the whole body, often within minutes of exposure to the allergen. Peanut allergy is the most widely known cause, but other causes of anaphylaxis include other foods, insect stings, latex and drugs. If untreated in time it can be fatal.

In the FAST project, scientists will use modified variants of allergic proteins that are hypoallergenic and therefore safer. The proteins will be purified making them more effective and making it easier to control the dose.

Ninety percent of all food allergies are caused by about 10 foods. Allergies to fish and fruit are among the most common in Europe. In fish allergy the protein responsible is parvalbumin and in fruit it is lipid transfer protein (LTP). Modified hypo-allergenic versions of these proteins will be produced at tested as potential treatments.

"We are hoping for a cure that will allow people to eat fish or fruit again," says Dr Ronald van Ree from the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam. "But a significant reduction of sensitivity would already be a great step forwards.

"The risk of unintentional exposure due to cross-contamination of foods, or while eating in restaurants or at parties, will decrease. This will take away lot of the anxiety that has a negative impact on the quality of life of food allergy sufferers."

For online information on the project: www.allergome.org:8080/fast/index.jsp

Source: Norwich BioScience Institutes

Explore further: Team explores STXBP5 gene and its role in blood clotting

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lavender farmers rebel against EU chemical rules

Sep 07, 2014

The sweet smell of lavender is tinged with bitterness this year in the south of France, as farmers who harvest the flower protest European regulations linking the plant to chemical toxins.

Food allergies: A new, simple method to track down allergens

Jul 02, 2014

Although food allergies are common, sufferers often don't know exactly what in foods cause their allergic reactions. This knowledge could help develop customized therapies, like training the body's immune system to respond ...

Making cashews safer for those with allergies

Aug 11, 2014

For the millions of adults and children in the U.S. who have to shun nuts to avoid an allergic reaction, help could be on the way. Scientists are now developing a method to process cashews—and potentially other nuts—that ...

Technology for a better diagnosis of food allergies

Jan 15, 2013

Researchers at the Institute of Materials Science of the Universitat de València, in consortium with various European companies and institutions, are developing a system based on photonic biosensors for ...

Recommended for you

Team explores STXBP5 gene and its role in blood clotting

55 minutes ago

Two independent groups of researchers led by Sidney (Wally) Whiteheart, PhD, of the University of Kentucky, and Charles Lowenstein, MD, of the University of Rochester, have published important studies exploring the role that ...

User comments : 0