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Food Allergy
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Food Allergy

Research Activities

Allergen and T-Cell Reagent Resources for the Study of Allergic Diseases

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) developed this new program in response to a 2005 NIAID-sponsored workshop on the future of immunotherapy. The subject matter experts who attended the workshop recognized a great need to identify and characterize allergen-specific T-cell epitopes for use in the development of novel immune-based therapeutics, including those that may induce immune tolerance against clinically important allergens. The goal of this program is to identify and characterize novel allergen-specific T-cell epitopes that activate both effector and regulatory T-cell subsets. We expect that this initiative will contribute significantly to our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie allergic disease and will lead to the development of new peptide-based immunotherapies. Epitopes identified by the investigators supported through this 2007 funding initiative will be deposited in the publicly accessible NIAID Immune Epitope Database and Analysis Resource.

For more information, please contact Dr. Michael Minnicozzi or visit NIAID Immune Epitope Database and Analysis Resource

Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers

NIAID established the first Asthma and Allergic Diseases Centers in 1971, and the program is now in its fourth decade of continuous funding. The Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers have been responsible for many important basic science discoveries and clinical advances in the fields of asthma and allergy and have trained many of today’s academic leaders in these fields. The program currently supports 15 Centers located throughout the United States. These Centers conduct basic and clinical research on the mechanisms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of asthma and allergic diseases. Several of the Centers are preparing to launch clinical studies, including the study of anti-IgE on airway responsiveness to allergen challenge, interaction of endotoxin- and allergen-induced inflammation on airway physiology, penicillin desensitization and its effects on mast cells, the interaction between allergen-induced chronic hyperplastic eosinophilic airway disease and asthma, the effect of nasal provocation with atmospheric particulate matter on allergic sensitization, and the use of oral immunotherapy to treat cow’s milk allergy.

For more information, please contact Dr. Gang Dong.

Consortium of Food Allergy Research

NIAID established this program in 2005 to study the natural history of food allergy and develop new approaches to treat and prevent food allergies. The Consortium is currently conducting an observational study in young children at high risk of developing peanut allergy. This study will correlate biologic markers and immunologic changes associated with the development of peanut allergy and the resolution of egg and cow’s milk allergy. Another study is evaluating the capacity of oral egg administration, in egg-allergic children, to induce immune tolerance to this food. The Consortium is also developing a clinical trial of sublingual immunotherapy for peanut allergy, as well as a “first-in-man” mucosal immunotherapy clinical trial that will attempt to induce T-cell tolerance in peanut-allergic subjects using recombinant and genetically modified peanut allergen proteins, administered rectally within killed E. coli.

For more information, please contact Dr. Marshall Plaut.

Exploratory Investigations in Food Allergy

Co-sponsored by  NIAID, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, the Food Allergy Project, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this initiative will support innovative exploratory and developmental research on the mechanisms of food allergy and associated co-morbid conditions, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and eosinophilic gastroenteritis, using ex vivo specimens from human subjects or animal models of food allergy. One important goal of this initiative is to attract additional investigators to the field of food allergy research. NIAID expects to award grants under this initiative in mid-2008.

For more information, please contact Dr. Richard Sawyer.

Immune Tolerance Network (ITN)

First funded in 1999 and renewed in 2007, the ITN is an international consortium of investigators in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia dedicated to the development and evaluation of novel, tolerance-inducing therapies in immune-mediated disorders, including asthma and allergic disease. The ITN recently completed a proof-of-principle clinical trial using a recombinant ragweed allergen chemically conjugated to immunostimulatory DNA to treat allergic rhinitis (Creticos et al., 2006). Just six injections of this allergen-DNA conjugate, given to ragweed allergic patients prior to seasonal exposure to ragweed pollen, markedly reduced rhinitis symptoms during both that year’s and the following year’s ragweed season. An ongoing ITN clinical trial is testing whether regular consumption of a peanut snack by high-risk children enrolled between four and ten months of age will prevent the later development of peanut allergy.

For more information, please contact Dr. Marshall Plaut.

NIAID Laboratory of Allergic Diseases

NIAID’s Laboratory of Allergic Diseases (LAD) conducts basic and clinical research on immunologic diseases with an emphasis on disorders of immediate hypersensitivity, which include the spectrum of classic allergic diseases. The LAD is composed of an interactive group of Ph.Ds., M.Ds., research nurses, technicians, and administrative staff who work in contemporary laboratories that are adjacent to NIAID's clinical facilities.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is an emerging allergic disease that is often associated with multiple food allergies. The incidence of EE has increased markedly in the past 10 years, due both to an actual increase in disease, as well as to greater recognition. Because of the important role food allergies play in causing EE, investigators in the LAD are studying the immune response to foods in EE to determine how that differs from that in patients with conventional peanut allergy. The identification of immune responses that are specific for EE and/or peanut allergy will help in understanding how to target these diseases with new immune based treatments. LAD investigators have recently published a clinical study using anti-IgE as a potential treatment for food allergy associated EE and eosinophilic gastroenteritis.

For more information, please contact Dr. Calman Prussin or visit the Laboratory of Allergic Diseases

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