New treatments are offering the prospect of eating without fear for the 15 million people in the United States with food allergies, according to the cover story in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Lauren K. Wolf, C&EN associate editor, describes how food allergies result in more than 200,000 emergency room visits annually and involve health care costs exceeding $500 million. Help, however, is on the way, in the form of new medications and other treatments. Oral immunotherapy, for instance, shows promise for enabling people with allergies to eggs, milk and peanuts to safely eat small amounts of foods containing those ingredients. Another treatment is Genentech and Novartis' drug Xolair, which is in clinical trials for various allergies. Several other promising treatments also are in the pipeline.
A companion story by Celia Henry Arnaud, C&EN senior editor, focuses on the tests used to detect food allergens, the proteins that trigger allergic reactions. People with food allergies can be exposed to those allergens, risking a severe reaction, from mislabeled products or products inadvertently contaminated with allergens. Arnaud's article discusses tests used in the food industry to check for the presence of egg, peanut, soy and other allergens and to label products.