"Participants who took a daily dose of egg product over the two-year study period were able to build up their bodies' resistance to the point where most of them could eat two scrambled eggs without a reaction," said A. Wesley Burks, M.D., chief of Duke's Division of Allergy and Immunology and a senior member of the research team. "Egg allergies cause a significant decrease in quality of life for many people, so this study is exciting in that it brings us a step closer to being able to offer a meaningful therapy for these people."
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies among children in the United States, Burks said. Just how many children are allergic to eggs is unclear, but the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimates that 6 percent to 8 percent of children have some type of food allergy. Most children outgrow egg allergy by age 5, but some people remain allergic for a lifetime.
The findings are reported in an advance online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and will appear in the journal's January 2007 print edition.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the two universities.
The study is the first in a series of studies on food allergy "desensitization" that are under way at Duke and the University of Arkansas. The goal, Burks said, is to offer food allergy sufferers protection from accidental ingestion of items that provoke reactions and, eventually, to induce complete or near-complete tolerance to those items.
Burks and his colleagues modeled the study on a commonly used method for treating seasonal allergy sufferers to alleviate symptoms. In this approach, called immunotherapy, physicians give patients shots containing small amounts of the troublesome allergen in an effort to build their tolerance to it. The therapy works on a cellular level to alter specific immune system cells, called lymphocytes, that play a part in orchestrating allergic reactions and to increase the immune system's production of antibodies that attack and neutralize allergens, Burks said.
The seven subjects in the study, who ranged from 1 to 7 years of age, had a history of allergic reactions, including hives, wheezing and vomiting, when they consumed eggs or egg products. For safety's sake, none of the children enrolled had previously experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction, Burks said. As an extra precaution, the subjects received a supply of epinephrine, which is commonly used to treat breathing problems that can occur with food allergy.
Instead of receiving shots, as seasonal allergy sufferers do, the subjects were given small doses of powdered egg orally, mixed in food. "We started the subjects with a very small concentration of egg product -- the equivalent of less than one-thousandth of an egg -- and then we increased the dose every 30 minutes for eight hours in order to determine the highest dose that each subject could tolerate," Burks said.
The subjects consumed the first doses in the study clinic. The researchers then gave the children's parents or caregivers a supply of egg product, allocated into the tolerated doses, which the subjects consumed daily at home, mixed with other foods.
The children returned to the clinic every two weeks. At each visit, the researchers increased the subjects' dosages until they reached the equivalent of one-tenth of an egg, Burks said. The children then continued to take this "maintenance dose" daily for the duration of the study.
Over time, the children showed both an increase in tolerance to eggs and a decrease in the severity of their allergic reactions, Burks said. At the end of the study period, most of the children could tolerate two scrambled eggs with no adverse reactions.
The researchers now are conducting two follow-up food allergy desensitization studies, Burks said. In one study, subjects receive higher doses of egg to see if this will further reduce their sensitivity or even neutralize the allergy altogether.
The second study focuses on children who are allergic to peanuts, to see if the desensitization approach can build their tolerance and decrease the severity of their reactions. Peanut allergy, which can be life-threatening, affects approximately 1 percent of children under age 5, and its incidence has been on the rise over the past 15 years, according to Burks. Studies have shown that about 20 percent of children with egg or milk allergy will go on to develop a peanut allergy.
Other members of the research team were Ariana Buchanan, Todd Green, Pamela Steele, Laurent Pons and Laurie Lee of Duke and Amy Scurlock, Lynn Christie, Karen Althage and Rick Helm of the University of Arkansas.
Lauren Shaftel | EurekAlert!
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy