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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 September 2006, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK
Food allergies 'gone in 10 years'
Nuts
About one in 70 people are allergic to foods such as nuts and milk
Food allergies could be virtually eradicated in 10 years, according to scientists at a major conference.

Experts at the BA Festival of Science, in Norwich, heard that vaccines could be created against the molecules which trigger allergies.

The scientist leading the research - Dr Ronald van Ree, from Amsterdam University - said a vaccine with no side effects was in sight.

About one in 70 people have an allergy to foods such as peanuts or shellfish.

New genetic engineering techniques are being tested to reduce the effect of the proteins in food that cause adverse - sometimes fatal - reactions.

It is hoped that scientists will be able to make the molecules safe enough to use in drugs that fight food allergies via the immune system.

These would be used in conjunction with compounds designed to reduce inflammation - one of the most dangerous effects of allergic reactions.

Effective treatment will end the fear that food-allergic patients have for unwanted exposure to food allergens
Dr Ronald van Ree

Speaking about the research, Dr van Ree told festival delegates: "Taken together, these new developments provide good opportunities to develop strategies for the treatment of food allergies, both preventive and curative."

He said it was now possible to produce altered versions of food allergy molecules in the laboratory.

"Importantly, this allows scientists to develop hypo-allergenic variants of these molecules for application in safer immunotherapy that will induce little or no side effects," the scientist told the meeting at the University of East Anglia.

"Effective treatment will end the fear that food-allergic patients have for unwanted exposure to food allergens."

Foods which carry a high allergy risk include milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, shellfish, fish, soya, and tree nuts such as brazils or cashews.

Despite possibly fatal effects, deaths from food allergy are rare.

Only eight children in the UK died from food allergy reactions between 1990 and 2000.




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