The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a Maryland-based biomedical research facility, has a goal to find effective treatment strategies for food allergy. The agency will award the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), a total of $42.7 million, which will be spread out over a seven-year period based on the availability of funds. CoFAR will continue to evaluate new strategies to treat food allergy.
There is an estimated 5 percent of children and 4 percent of adults that have food allergy in the United States. Food allergy is when the immune system acts abnormally to an ingredient in food, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Mild reactions can be anything from stomach cramps to hives, while severe reactions are much more dangerous and even life threatening. Anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction, has a rapid onset and can progress very quickly. Emergency treatment is a requirement for survival and is most often involves an epinephrine injection.
The prevalence of food allergy has increased sufficiently to become a major public-health concern, while the cause still remains a mystery. The CoFAR scientists are currently working to develop new immunotherapy approaches, which must be completed over a course of time. The immunotherapy approach would involve exposing the immune system to an allergen, reducing an immediate allergic response and eventually bringing long-term relief.
CoFAR has identified genes, in Americans of the European decent, that are associated with an increased risk for peanut allergy. In addition, CoFAR has demonstrated the benefit of egg oral immunotherapy for treating egg allergy and identified the most auspicious durations, routes and doses of peanut and egg immunotherapy for further study.