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NIH expands food allergy research program
Date:7/14/2010

Today, the National Institutes of Health announce that the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), established in 2005, will be funded for five more years. CoFAR will continue to foster new approaches to prevent and treat food allergies and also expand in scope to include research on the genetic causes underlying food allergy and studies of food allergy-associated eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs).

Funding for CoFAR is provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), components of NIH.

"Food allergies are difficult to manage because even when one strictly avoids allergenic foods, people with food allergies are still at risk of potentially life-threatening accidental exposures," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci. "We need to find better ways to treat and prevent food allergy and improve the quality of life of those with the disease."

Food allergy occurs in an estimated 5 percent of children and 4 percent of adults in the United States. The hallmark of this disorder is production of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in response to a specific food. Once IgE antibody is made, further exposure to the food triggers an allergic response. Symptoms of food allergy can range from hives or stomach cramps to swelling of the larynx, fainting from low blood pressure or anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic response to food.

EGIDs are a group of recently recognized allergic diseases that also are associated with production of IgE antibodies as well as other immune responses to food. The most common EGID is eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), which is characterized by inflammation and accumulation of eosinophils, a subset of immune cells, in the esophagus. The primary symptoms of EoE in children include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain after eating, while in adults, the primary symptom is difficulty swallowi
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Contact: Julie Wu
wujuli@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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