Food allergies are at an all-time high, and each year in the United States, 200,000 people require emergency medical care for allergic reactions to food. A food allergy can be extremely dangerous and, in rare cases, may be fatal. Yet, the only approach patients currently have for avoiding a severe allergic reaction is to avoid any contact with the offending food.
Despite careful, daily routines to avoid contact with food allergens — at home, school, and everywhere in between — accidents still happen. The severity of these accidents may be reduced if allergists could moderate the body’s reaction to the allergen, as they have done successfully for years in treating bee stings and other allergies with a century-old approach called allergy immunotherapy.
A targeted approach
Allergy immunotherapy is a process of controlled exposure to specific allergens in increasing amounts at regular intervals so that the body’s immune system adapts over time and reactions to the allergen are milder than before. Once the desensitization occurs, patients typically continue ongoing doses of the allergen to maintain the allergy control over time.
“Until treatments are available, anyone living with a peanut allergy faces a lifetime of anxiety that accompanies the daily threat of potentially fatal reactions,” says Aimmune president and CEO, Dr. Jayson Dallas. “Aimmune is a company that was born from the unmet need for approved treatments for food allergies by concerned parents, food allergy advocacy groups, and regulators. Our mission is to bring forth new options to lessen the impact of exposures and provide peace of mind to patients and their families.”
Although multiple studies have been conducted to investigate the safety and efficacy of oral immunotherapy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve any treatments for food allergies.
“For the past two decades, we’ve seen an incredible increase in the number of patients suffering from a severe peanut allergy, yet the only advice we can provide is to avoid peanuts,” said Dr. Ellen Sher, a board-certified allergist at the Allergy Partners of New Jersey. “Based on a deep understanding of how the immune system works, over 100 years of research, and recent large clinical trials, oral immunotherapy may be an option to improve the lives of those with food allergies.”
Doug Levy, [email protected]