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Science and Technology

Shot could eventually suppress food allergies

It's still five years away from human clinical trials, but at least in mice, a new antibody injection has seemingly suppressed allergic reactions to food.

UC Professor Fred Finkelman, MD, who does lab research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, now has FARE funding to see if this injection will work in people. "There is nothing new under the sun and what we did was put together two ideas that have been out there for a long time, but maybe put them together in a way that increases their potential as human therapy."

First some background. Allergy sufferers make molecules called IgE antibodies. They sit on histamine-filled "mast cells" and are spread throughout the body. When the body is exposed to something it's allergic to, the allergen attaches itself to the IgE on the cell which then "explodes," sending its chemical contents throughout the body and causing the allergic reaction.

The idea

  1.  Develop an antibody that would remove IgE and IgE receptors
  2. Use rapid desensitization to allow the patient's body to accept it

Rapid desensitization involves giving small doses until he body accepts a full dose.
Finkelman says, "We want it to work very quickly, so that in 12 to 24 hours we can remove the ability to have an IgE allergen reaction and we want to make it safer, you know, mice don't complain."

The hope is that the injection will cover everything the person is allergic to. Allergy sufferers would have to get the shot every 21 days.

Wyoming's Heather Yee is interested in this latest development. Her 7 year old Kai is allergic to dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. He wears an allergy bracelet that says so and seems to be very informed about what will make him sick. "I eat stuff without that stuff in it." His favorite food is pizza. (vegan with a gluten-free crust)

Heather and her husband Ben have to make lots of things from scratch. She says, " We both try to have a level of a healthy fear, if you will. You don't want to keep us in a bubble, but you want to look at your surroundings, be aware and be open with people."

FARE walk  Saturday September 20

Heather is leading a walk to benefit FARE this Saturday in Cincinnati. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. at the International Friendship Park.

Food allergies affect 15 million Americans and result in about 200,000 emergency department visits a year; that's one visit every three minutes.