Food allergy and food intolerance now affects a growing number of people all over the world. This has led to much research into this phenomenon to provide a better understanding and to help in the management of various associated conditions.
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Aims of Research
Research in this field is aimed at elucidating:
- The actual prevalence of food allergies and food intolerance
- The characteristic features of food allergy and intolerance
- The thresholds at which various foods provoke an allergic reaction
- The role that food allergens play in development of food allergies, with respect to the route of exposure and the time at which such exposure occurs
- The roles of various immunologic processes in food allergies
- Labelling to prevent food allergy and determination of how much is too much in terms of cross-contamination of processed foods
- Consumer attitudes towards food allergy, as reflected by food choices
- The effectiveness of provided information about food allergies and intolerances
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases supports a variety of clinical trials in the area of food allergy.
Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR)
Founded in 2005, this organization currently focuses on earlier promising results of its studies on the genetic basis of food allergy, as well as research into food-allergy associated eosinophilic esophagitis.
It is interested in finding out more about how food allergies emerge and how tolerance is built up. Immunologic therapies are explored. Markers of eosinophilic esophagitis are under study to understand if they are related to IgE antibody-associated food allergy.
Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers (AADCRCs)
This program conducts research on the molecular basis of food allergy by trials conducted at 15 centers all over the US. It aims to throw light on the whole process of immunologic food reactions, from mechanism to prevention.
Immune Tolerance Network (ITN)
This group of researchers has been studying new ways to induce tolerance to allergenic foods, as well as in other forms of hypersensitivity, since 1999. At present it is conducting two trials meant to elucidate how food allergies arise in early life, and whether immunotherapy can be successfully extended to include prophylactic early exposure to certain allergens such as peanuts.
Inner-City Asthma Consortium (ICAC)
This group is exploring the relationship between food allergy and the development of asthma in later life, in children who live in environments with a high rate of asthmatic disease.
Exploratory Investigations in Food Allergy
Beginning in 2008, this program focuses on encouraging newer research which is expected to have a significant effect on the world of food allergy, and conducted by new researchers.
These projects are funded by several organizations including NIAID, the Food Allergy Initiative, and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initially.
Research initiatives may include work on the identification of potential allergenic foods by means of their specific proteins, and being able to predict severe reactions by means of the identified precipitating factors.
NIAID and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
Some of the major food allergy research is funded by grants provided by FARE, the Food Allergy Research and Education organization. It sponsors research on the causes of food allergy, the impact of this condition on the economic and psychological scenario, as well as therapies to reduce this impact.
National Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
This has a program, the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP), which focuses on providing reliable data on which foods provoke true allergies, information on genetically modified foods and helping to label and identify food products for consumer safety.
Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc