Over centuries, huge amounts of research has been done into allergies that has lead us to the present day. This included the identification of the 14 major allergens and the development of the adrenaline auto injector. There is work being done as we speak, so I thought I would dedicate a post to this research, and studies that have recently concluded. As the cause of allergies remains a mystery, there is a huge amount of research, so I have narrowed it down to three studies that I thought were particularly interesting.
iFAAM (Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management, Pan-European Edition):
This project is the world’s biggest ever study of food allergies, lead by the University of Manchester and includes leading experts in the UK, Europe, Australia and the US. The Anaphylaxis Campaign also contributed to this project, saying ‘We have been actively involved in delivering the patient’s perspective on the issues involved in this project and organising focus groups and contributing to papers on incidence and severity of food allergies’. This Project concluded in 2017, and the Anaphylaxis Campaign will be making certain findings public when they become available.
TRACE Peanut Study:
This study took place at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London and Addenbroke’s Hospital in Cambridge, and aimed to discover how much peanut is safe to consume to improve food labelling for the public. As we know from our lives of label-reading, food companies use ‘may contain traces of peanuts/nuts’ as a disclaimer in case the product accidentally contains peanuts or nuts. The project aimed to discover exactly how much peanut would cause an allergic reaction for those with an allergy by conducting food challenge testing on around 100 people. The focus area was on two ‘extrinsic’ factors known to influence allergic thresholds (exercise and tiredness). The Food Standards Agency (who commissioned the trial) will use the project to improve the clarity of labelling on food for peanut allergy-sufferers in the UK. The project is now concluded and we are waiting for the publication of the findings.
Researchers at the Nova Southeastern University, USA, are attempting to develop an oral pill which could replace the adrenaline auto injectors. The pill would go under the tongue to deliver adrenaline effectively and quickly. Apparently the pill would have a longer shelf life than epipens, and doses could be changed depending on the patient, rather than having either a child or adult dose. Previous attempts to develop this pill failed when it lost its ability to deliver adrenaline when ingested, but there is hope that this pill might be available in a few years time.
If you want to keep updated with news on research developments, I would recommend keeping an eye on the News section of the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s website!