Nobel Peace Laureate developing new drug to prevent asthma & food allergies

A new drug, designed to suppress an overactive immune system and help prevent asthma and food allergies, is being developed by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Barry Marshall.

Professor Marshall, from The University of Western Australia, is developing an oral treatment called ‘Immbalance’, which is designed to restore balance to the immune system and desensitize allergic responses.

Professor Marshall said the drug would harness the immune properties of common bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which naturally resides in the human stomach and move the allergic response down into the normal range.

He believes the drug will likely be a powder that can be consumed by adding it to food and drinks.

It is ready to be manufactured for safety testing on animals and then, when approved, in humans.

It is hoped clinical trials in children will begin in three years.

High-fiber (fibre) diet may protect against peanut allergy

A Melbourne-led study has found that mice with allergies to peanuts may beat the condition when they are fed high-fiber diets.

The new Monash University study, published in the journal Cell Reports, found mice allergic to peanuts were protected against the allergy when fed a high-fibre diet. The researchers suggest that eating a high-fiber diet changes bacteria in the stomach and this change can help protect against food allergies. This good gut ‘bacteria’ helps the immune system resist allergies through the breakdown of fibre in short-chain fatty acids – opening up the potential for new drug therapy for those with food allergies.

Scientist Jian Tan, a PhD student at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, says the study not only reveals how the immune system fails when a person becomes allergic, but how the immune system can be helped through diet to prevent or lessen the effects of allergies.

Further study is needed and the next step is to conduct trials with humans to determine how a high-fibre diet can protect against challenges with allergic foodstuffs.

Turn It Teal For Food Allergy Awareness

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month. Raising awareness to this growing public health issue is an important way to help those who manage allergies daily by making those around them more supportive and knowledgeable about their struggles.

In 2014 food allergy mother Stephanie Lowe came up with a great awareness idea- to light up landmarks in the food allergy awareness color of teal.

In that year Cleveland’s Terminal Tower was the first building lit igniting this wonderful awareness initiative and the Turn it Teal organization was formed.

This May ‘Turn It Teal’ will see many buildings lit up including the Empire State Building, JFK Airport Air Traffic Control Tower, Seattle’s Pacific Science Center and Niagara Falls.

For further information

British Airways Apply New Nut Allergy Policy

British Airways, who already have a nut-free snack policy on all flights, have now expanded their protection of passengers with severe nut allergies by adding a pre-flight announcement outlining the policy and requesting those passengers who may be seated nearby others with nut allergies to refrain from eating peanuts or nut-based snacks or food items.

This additional level of protection makes British Airways the first major international airliner to implement such safeguards. Advocates for those living with life-threatening nut allergies heralded the British Airways PA announcements as an important step for the food allergy community.

Sesame Gains Footing in Drive for Food-Labeling Requirements

Currently nearly half a million Americans suffer from a sesame allergy and the number is increasing.
Despite the rise, at this time, sesame is not required to be listed as an allergen on packaging.

Supporters of the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 hope to change this and would require sesame to be placed on the list of major food allergens.

Currently, only items listed on what is commonly referred to as the “Big 8” allergens — milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybean — must be listed on food labels in clear, easy-to-understand language. The “Big 8” list accounted for 90 percent of the allergies in the U.S. but sesame has increasingly become what many refer to as the “ninth” major allergen.

Researchers investigating whether children’s food allergies are triggered by their mothers’ diets

The Telethon Kids Institute and University of WA will lead research into whether a mother’s high- fiber diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding could prevent a child from developing food allergies.

The clinical trial of 650 Western Australian mothers over the next five years aims to build on promising results from animal studies, which seem to indicate that a high-fiber diet does reduce food allergy risk.Mothers will randomly receive high or low-fiber supplements from about 18-20 weeks of their pregnancy.

Professor Susan Prescott; “We’ve known for a while that Western diets low in fiber have been linked to a broad range of diseases,” she added. “You are what you eat, but a lot of that is determined not just by the nutrients you are eating, but if it promotes a bacteria profile that has beneficial effects.

Farm dust found to protect against asthma, allergies, may lead to vaccine

Children who grow up on farms have fewer allergies than city children and researchers in Europe think they have figured out why. Turns out farm dirt might be helping to protect them.

Scientists from the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology and Ghent University in Belgium examined 2,000 children, who grew up on farms and found that significantly fewer suffer from allergies or asthma when compared to the general population. More than 80 per cent of people with asthma also have an allergy.

“At this point, we have revealed an actual link between farm dust and protection against asthma and allergies,” said Bart Lambrecht, a professor of pulmonary medicine at Ghent University, adding that they also conducted experiments on mice to establish the link.

“We did this by exposing mice to farm dust extract from Germany and Switzerland. These tests revealed that the mice were fully protected against house dust mite allergy, the most common cause for allergies in humans,” he said.

Farm dust “makes the mucous membrane inside the respiratory tracts react less severely to allergens such as house dust mite” due to a protein called A20,” he added.

When the group examined people who suffered allergies and asthma, they found many had a deficiency in the protein A20.

The findings, published in the US Journal of Science could help lead to a vaccine one day.


Research: Hospital admissions for dangerous food allergies continue to rise

Hospital admissions of children with severe, potentially life-threatening food allergy reactions are on the rise in many developed countries.

A new U.S. study by Northwestern Medicine found the rate of emergency room visits of children with severe food allergy reactions nearly tripled in the state of Illinois over five years.

Lead study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, “This study is really important because it shows the impact food allergies are having.”

Meanwhile, researchers in Australia have found the number of admissions to Australian hospitals because of severe allergic reactions has grown by 50 percent since 2005.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI) Professor Mimi Tang said the highest rates of hospital admissions were in younger children, but there was a 110 percent increase in rates in older children (aged 5 – 14).

The implication from both these studies is that rates of serious allergic reactions are increasing at a compounding rate.

Study: 1 in 10 Children with Asthma Also Have Peanut Allergies – But Most Are Unaware

A study of more than 1,500 children at Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo suggests that children with asthma are more likely to have peanut allergies too.

The analysis showed that 11 percent of the children were diagnosed with peanut allergy. However, the majority, or 53 percent of the children and their families were unaware of this condition because both conditions have similar symptoms, such as shortness of breath, sneezing and coughing.

“Many of the respiratory symptoms of a peanut allergy can mirror those of an asthma attack, and vice versa,” lead author Robert Cohn said. “This study demonstrates children with asthma might benefit from a test for peanut sensitivity, especially when control of wheezing and coughing is difficult to achieve.”

Boy Develops Potentially Deadly Food Allergies After Blood Transfusion

In a rare case, an eight-year-old Canadian boy developed an allergy to fish and nuts after receiving a blood transfusion during treatment for brain cancer.

The case study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that the boy, who had no history of allergies previously, reacted badly to salmon and peanuts within two weeks of the transfusion; Blood and skin prick tests revealed that he was (at least temporarily) allergic to nuts and fish and had to carry an adrenaline injector for emergencies.

The Canadian Blood Services tracked a donor with severe food allergies who had contributed platelets to the pooled transfusion involved. “It is very unusual to identify someone who experienced passive transfer of allergy from blood products,” says Julia Upton of the Hospital for Sick Children. While rare, it can still result in anaphylactic reactions to foods that were happily consumed (or at least tolerated) previously; “Importantly, this condition has an excellent prognosis and typically resolves within a few months.”

Thankfully, that was the result in this particular case.

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