Teens in the Real World
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Research 101

Food Allergy by the Numbers

As many as 15 million Americans have a food allergy. What does that mean for your life?
How many people in your class?
How many people in your school?

What is research?

Research is the path to scientific discoveries. Food allergy research is a growing field of scientific study. Researchers have discovered that in the past 5 years, peanut allergy in children has doubled. A new study estimate that as many as 15 million Americans have a food allergy, including approximately 6 million children. That’s why food allergy research is of crucial importance.

There are research studies currently being conducted throughout the world to find out how many people are allergic to each of the major allergens, how many reactions these people have per year, and why food allergies and anaphylaxis occur in some people and not others. Researchers are also working to develop methods to prevent food allergy from occurring and new therapies to treat food allergy and anaphylaxis.

What’s going on to find a new treatment for food allergy?

Some of the top allergists and immunologists in the world are working hard to find ways to treat food allergy and prevent reactions from occurring.

A number of scientists are working on therapies that will increase a person’s tolerance to allergens, so that a person who is allergic could eat small amounts of that food without having a reaction. For one type of immunotherapy, the allergic individual would receive a shot containing a protein that mimics the food they are allergic to (a method similar to the allergy shots you may already receive for your allergies to dogs, cats, or dust). Another study is examining the possibility of giving an allergic individual gradually increasing oral doses of an allergen under the care and close supervision of a physician.

Other studies are trying to develop ways to “turn off” or block the cells in your body that are involved in an allergic reaction. Most of these approaches are not yet being studied in humans, and are instead being studied at a microscopic level or in animal models.

How close are scientists to developing a cure?

Everyone in the allergy community would like a cure for food allergies to be available soon. However, the nature of scientific advances is gradual, making it very difficult to estimate a specific date when there will be a cure. Even when a therapy looks promising in an animal model, scientists and regulators must be very cautious before applying it to people, to make sure that the therapy is safe and effective.

While it’s hard to pinpoint a specific date when a cure will be available, it is clear that research is uncovering new information about food allergies all the time. We are moving toward a cure.

Learn About Research

Occasionally, FAAN learns about research studies that may be of interest to you. If you would like to receive information about upcoming research studies, please fill out our research form.

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