By Heather Legg
According to a recent study in Glasgow reported in the BBC News, “Scientists have made a breakthrough which could reduce the risk of children suffering serious allergic reactions to peanuts and other food.”
Researchers at Glasgow University have identified a molecule which amplifies allergic reactions and a have developed a biological agent which may have the possibility to reduce allergic symptoms.
Not only will this hopefully cut cases of anaphylactic reactions to food allergies, but also to non-food reactions, like insect stings, penicillin, and other variants causing anaphylactic reactions which can lead to death.
The molecule IL-33 plays a part in increasing the inflammation experienced during anaphylaxis and those with a higher levels of IL-33 in their system have more severe reactions. Without this molecule, the reactions would be far less severe, hence the risk of death greatly reduced.
The study as successfully carried out with a mouse model to show that blocking the IL-33 molecule reduces the severity of the attack. The team is presently further studying the role of this molecule to hopefully find a cure to the reaction of anaphylactic reactions and allergies.
According to this article, Acute food allergy is thought to affect 500,000 people in the UK, and is most common in children. Children are very likely to outgrow an allergy to milk, eggs, soy or wheat, but allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish or fish are less frequently outgrown. International comparisons show that the UK population has the highest prevalence of allergy in Europe and ranks among the highest in the world.
Recently there has been a lot of news regarding desensitization of food allergies where patients ingest minute amounts of their allergen until a tolerance is built up. Mostly this has been with peanuts and those with peanut allergies with successful results. It is similar to allergy shots that those with bee or wasp allergies take, where a tiny amount of venom is injected into the system. Even if it’s only a small amount that the body is able to ingest without a reaction, it takes away the fear of contaminated food.
Though it does seem that more and more people are displaying allergic symptoms to more foods than in past decades, it does seem hopeful on the horizon with the present research being done that a medical cure is not far off.