In positive news, DBV Technologies, a French firm developing skin patch therapies for various allergens, issued a press release announcing their Viaskin® Peanut patch has received “Breakthrough Therapy” (BT) designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
DBV describes Viaskin as “an electrostatic patch, based on Epicutaneous Immunotherapy, or EPIT®, which administers an allergen directly onto the superficial layers of the skin to activate the immune system by specifically targeting antigen-presenting cells without allowing passage of the antigen into the bloodstream.”
According to a study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, allergies to specific foods can be passed via blood transfusions, though such cases are extremely rare.
The research was initiated after an eight year old Canadian boy with no history of food allergies suddenly experienced an anaphylactic reaction to salmon after receiving a transfusion of platelets as part of ongoing chemotherapy treatment. Four days later he had a reaction to peanuts.
Investigators traced the source of the platelets and found that a single donor had multiple severe food allergies including fish and peanuts.
Though extremely rare, researchers found that food allergies can be passed through an antibody that reacts against allergens, immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is found in blood platelets.
Food challenge: where the patient consumes a food they may be allergic to while the medical staff hovers nearby, ready to inject epinephrine if the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. Low-tech, dangerous, and the only reliable way to test how severely someone may react to an allergen. Until now.
A blood test resulting from a study led by researchers from The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute promises to predict which people will have severe allergic reactions to specific foods. The study was published yesterday in The Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology accompanied by a press release by Mount Sinai.
Current testing relies on skin pricks and blood tests that detect proteins called allergen-specific IgE produced by the immune system, though these cannot accurately predict the severity of reactions. The study reports that measuring another immune system component, the basophil, can accurately predict how a person will react to specific allergens. The basophil activation test (BAT) requires only a small amount of blood and provides quick results.
“While providing crucial information about their potential for a severe allergic reaction to a food, having blood drawn for BAT testing is a much more comfortable procedure than food challenges.” says first author Ying Song, MD. “Although food challenges are widely practiced, they carry the risk of severe allergic reactions, and we believe BAT testing will provide accurate information in a safer manner.”
Note that BAT testing is currently only approved for research study.
The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute of Parkville, Australia today announced results of a test they conducted of a novel new twist on an existing peanut allergy therapy.
The treatment combines traditional peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) with a probiotic, lactobacillus rhamnosus. A fixed dose of the probiotic is provided daily along with daily doses of increasing quantities of peanut protein as is customary in OIT.
60 Children were enrolled in the test, with half given the treatment and the other half a placebo. Of the 28 children given the treatment, 23 (80%) were able to include peanut in their diet at the conclusion of the 18 month course of therapy.
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A study by researchers of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), may shed light on why women suffer more frequent and more severe instances of anaphylaxis than men.
Anaphylaxis – a life threatening allergic reaction triggered by foods, medication, and animal stings and bites – occurs when immune cells release enzymes that cause tissues to swell and blood vessels to widen. Clinical studies have shown that women experience anaphylaxis more often than men, though the mechanism for this has not been clearly understood.
NIAID researchers found that female mice experienced more severe and longer lasting anaphylactic reactions than males. They discovered that Estradiol – a type of estrogen – enhances the effect of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), an enzyme that causes a number of symptoms of anaphylaxis.
A study of 102 patients enrolled from adult and pediatric clinics showed that only 16% used their epinephrine auto-injectors correctly. Of the remaining 84%, more than half missed 3 or more steps for proper administration.
The most common errors included:
- Failure to hold the unit in place for at least 10 seconds after triggering
- Failure to place the needle end of the device on the thigh, and
- Failure to depress the device forcefully enough to activate the injection.
A study of 12 one year old babies with food allergies conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Victoria, Australia has found preliminary evidence that children may acquire allergies prior to birth.
The study measured DNA methylation – a mechanism that determines how genes are switched on or off – in the babies’ blood samples. “We found several switches that were different in the children with food allergies that occurred in some important immune genes”, said Dr David Martino from the Institute.
As many of our readers are well aware, peanuts are the leading cause of severe food-related allergic reactions in the US. Though Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) and related treatments that expose the subject to flour containing small, but increasing amounts of peanut protein are showing promise, there is a danger of anaphylactic reaction throughout the therapy.
Researchers at North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute are experimenting with new therapy media that combine the traditional peanut flour used in OIT with plant polyphenols found in many fruits and vegetables. When the peanut protein in the flour is bound to polyphenols derived from plants like blackcurrant, cinnamon, cranberry and green tea, they appear to become much less allergenic in lab tests. Tests in mice with a cranberry derivative/peanut flour combination appeared to trigger the desired desensitization without the dangerous reactions that can occur.
A study presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), asserts that individuals who have outgrown a food allergy may be at risk of developing eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) to the same food.
“EoE is characterized by the presence of large numbers of white blood cells called eosinophils in the tissue of the esophagus, which causes inflammation or swelling of the esophagus,” said Jonathan M. Spergel, MD, PhD, FAAAAI, one of the study authors. “Foods like dairy products, egg, soy and wheat are main causes of EoE.”
The results of a 3 year study of the effectiveness of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for desensitization of peanut allergy in children was published today in the medical journal The Lancet.
The study, co-sponsored by the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, followed 85 children aged 7-16 with confirmed peanut allergy from January 2010 through March 2013.
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