While hay fever and other seasonal allergies can cause plenty of misery, peanut, egg, milk, and other food allergies can be deadly. This has prompted medical researchers to work diligently in developing new tests for food allergies.
There are an estimated three million people in the United States allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, but nut allergy tests have not been very reliable until recently. Chemists at the University of Connecticut have developed a more precise and reliable allergy test that could prevent hospitalizations. The new test is several times more sensitive than current procedures and can determine the severity of a patient’s reaction to nuts with just a few drops of blood.
Another development might one day cure those with nut and other food allergies. And the treatment is found in an unusual place. A class of bacteria called Clostridia, found in the human gut, has been found to protect people from developing food allergies. The problem is that antibiotics have been shown to wipe out this important bacteria. And an average child in the United States takes three courses of antibiotics before the age of two. Researchers found that wiping out Clostridia in mice led to them developing food allergies. Reintroducing Clostridia caused the allergies to disappear. Someday soon a probiotic consisting of Clostridia could be a new allergy therapy.
And then there is that most common of allergies, hay fever, and sufferers will be glad to know British scientists have developed the Pollinex Quattro vaccine to reduce sneezing, itchy eyes and runny nose. A single shot contains extracts from 13 different grass pollens. While injecting pollen can trigger serious allergic reactions, the Pollinex Quattro shot is chemically treated to make it less likely to over-stimulate the immune system. The pollen is then combined with a natural amino acid so it releases slowly into the bloodstream. Studies show the Pollinex Quattro vaccine requires only four shots and the FDA is reviewing the efficacy of the drug.