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Researchers evaluating food allergy treatment
Date:4/17/2008

Researchers at National Jewish Medical and Research Center are conducting trials to evaluate a method to prevent allergic reactions to food. They are feeding peanut- and egg-allergic people increasing doses of an investigational protein extract from the foods to see if they can induce the participants immune systems to tolerate the food.

We hope these trials will lead to the development of the first active, preventive treatment for food allergies, said pediatric allergist David Fleischer, MD, principal investigator for the National Jewish studies. If successful, it would offer great hope for allergic patients and their families, whose lives are haunted by a daily fear of food.

Currently the only advice doctors can give to the estimated 12 million Americans who have food allergies is to avoid the food and carry a self-injectable dose of epinephrine in case they accidentally consume the allergenic food.

There is no treatment available to prevent an allergic reaction to food other than strict avoidance of that food. It can often be difficult to determine if a food contains peanuts or eggs, especially when eating at a restaurant or food prepared by another person. It can even be difficult recognizing egg and peanut proteins listed on food ingredient labels, especially from products that are not manufactured in the U.S.

As a result, thousands of people rush to emergency rooms every year suffering severe allergic reactions to food. As many as 200 people die from allergic reactions to food each year.

Allergists treating hay fever and other allergies have long used immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, to reduce their patients sensitivity to pollen, cat and dog dander, and dust mites. However, it is not considered safe to give allergy shots to food-allergic patients because the shots can cause severe allergic reactions.

Previous research has suggested that placing the allergenic food protein under the tong
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Contact: William Allstetter
allstetterw@njc.org
303-398-1002
National Jewish Medical and Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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