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New food allergy research consortium focuses on peanut allergy

The only advice doctors can give to the 4 percent of Americans with potentially life-threatening food allergies is to avoid the culprit food, often nuts or shellfish. But that may change as researchers in a new Food Allergy Research Consortium, announced today, strive to develop therapies to treat and prevent food allergy.

The consortium, led by Hugh Sampson, M.D., at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, will receive approximately $17 million over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. In addition, a five-year NIAID grant totaling approximately $5 million to the Emmes Corporation, of Rockville, MD, will fund a statistical center to support the consortium.

"The expertise of the Food Allergy Research Consortium provides a unique opportunity to investigate basic immunologic mechanisms associated with food allergy in animal models and humans, and, ultimately, to test novel therapies to treat food allergy," says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation.

The consortium will conduct basic, clinical and epidemiological studies, and develop educational programs aimed at parents, children and healthcare providers.

The consortium's first project will be a clinical study to evaluate a potential peanut allergy therapy. This potential therapy is expected to work in much the same fashion as allergy shots in which allergic individuals are given increasing doses of an allergen. The shots stimulate an immune response that protects against future allergic reactions. The existing approach, however, cannot be used in people with peanut allergies due to the risk of life-threatening reactions. To overcome this barrier, Dr. Sampson and Wesley Burks, M.D., of Duke University, Durham, NC, developed modified versions of peanut allergens that have been shown to be safe and effective in animal models. The con
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Contact: Linda Joy
ljoy@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
24-Jun-2005


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