New study shows promise in turning off food allergies

Food allergies account for over 300,000 American emergency room visits each year, with around 200 reported deaths.

About six to eight percent of U.S. children and four percent of adults suffer from food allergies In some, a food allergy can trigger a life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction. Currently, the only prevention for a food allergy is to avoid consumption and/or exposure the allergen source.

Good news for the millions of people that have server reactions to eating, touching, or even just smelling certain foods. Scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered a method of turning off the immune system’s allergic reaction to certain food proteins in mice.

The study can be found in the Nature Medicine journal. The research team discovered that an immune cells in the GI tract, lamina propria dendritic cells, express a special receptor, SIGNR1. When this receptor was targeted with sugar-modified protein, the food proteins that would normally have induced an allergic reaction did not cause serious harm to the test mice. According to the research, the human body could possibly be trained to tolerate food allergens.  The next step will be to confirm the research in human test studies.

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