Food and Respiratory Allergies: New Advances in Treatment and Promising Research in 2017
Authored By: Dr. Reynold Karr
For those of you who have suffered or have friends or family who have suffered from respiratory allergies such as pollen hay fever and asthma, and remember treatment with frequent allergy shots, there is now an alternative to allergy shots. So called sublingual immunotherapy involves placing an allergen tablet, such as one consisting of purified grass pollen, under the tongue each day at home. The tablet dissolves in seconds and the risk of a severe allergic reaction is very small. Also, treatment is just seasonal, not year round. There is ongoing research to develop other more convenient forms of desensitization such as using a small skin patch containing the allergen.
Progress in desensitization to foods, especially peanut, dairy, wheat, and egg, is also in advanced stages of development. For patients with moderate to severe allergic or eosinophilic asthma, and those with chronic hives, there are now no less than three biologic (monoclonal antibodies) agents that are FDA approved. Each targets a specific protein that is instrumental in producing the disease. They are all well tolerated with few and mostly very minor side effects. They are omalizumab which targets IgE, and mepolizumab and reslizumab which both target IL-5.
The Seattle area is playing a big role in worldwide allergy research not only at the University of Washington and Benaroya Research Institute, but also research centers such as PlasmaLab International in Everett. PlasmaLab coordinates laboratory research by providing serum or plasma, or even blood cells for research throughout the world. It works closely with domestic and international biotech and pharmaceutical companies, academic research centers, and governmental regulatory agencies developing new therapies. PlasmaLab depends on patients with severe allergies to aid in related research projects and often recruits patients with various allergies including asthma, nasal allergies, food allergies, or hives. Patients with allergies are invited to explore participation in the research of the local entities noted above. A good way to begin is to visit their websites and consider going for a guided visit.