Research for Allergies

Seasonal Allergy Research at NIH

Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers: In 1971, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) established its Asthma and Allergic Diseases Centers to conduct basic and clinical research on the mechanisms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of asthma and allergic diseases.

Immune Tolerance Network (ITN): The ITN is a consortium of investigators, dedicated to the development and evaluation of novel, tolerance-inducing therapies for disorders of the immune system, including asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Inner-City Asthma Consortium: Since 1991, the NIAID has funded research on asthma in low-income, urban areas with the goal of improving the treatment of children living in environments where asthma is a major health problem. The Inner City Asthma Consortium also conducts research on nasal allergy

Allergen Epitope Research and Validation Centers: The goal of this NIAID program is to identify the portions of allergy-inducing molecules that immune system cells and IgE antibodies recognize, and to develop therapies that block these portions from causing allergic reactions.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)1

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Seasonal Allergy Research at NIH

  • Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers: In 1971, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) established its Asthma and Allergic Diseases Centers to conduct basic and clinical research on the mechanisms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of asthma and allergic diseases.
  • Immune Tolerance Network (ITN): 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 such disorders as asthma and allergic rhinitis.
  • Inner-City Asthma Consortium: Since 1991, the NIAID has funded research on asthma in inner-city areas with the goal of improving the treatment of children living in environments where the prevalence and severity of asthma is particularly high.
  • Allergen Epitope Research and Validation Centers: The goal of this NIAID program is to identify the portions of allergy-inducing molecules that immune system cells and IgE antibodies recognize, and to develop therapies that block these portions from causing allergic reactions.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)2

Prevention Research for Allergies

Indoor Allergens: The researchers then collaborated with scientists from Harvard University and the University of Washington to evaluate some practical methods for reducing house dust mite allergens in the bedrooms of low-income Seattle homes.

The research showed that some simple steps—washing the bedding in hot water, putting allergen-impermeable covers on the pillows, box springs and mattresses, and vacuuming and steam-cleaning the carpets and upholstered furniture—can significantly reduce dust mite allergen levels,” Zeldin says.

They also conducted a 6-month trial to test a method for reducing cockroach allergen levels in low-income, urban homes. It included cockroach extermination, professional cleaning and in-home lessons on asthma management. At the end of 6 months, cockroach allergen levels were reduced by 84% on bedroom floors and in beds, and by 96% on kitchen floors. A follow-up study showed that these reductions could be maintained with continued cockroach control.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)3

Causal Research for Allergies

Indoor Allergens: From 1998 to 2002, NIEHS scientists, along with researchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, conducted an extensive survey to assess how widespread these indoor allergens are in American homes. The results of this survey, the National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing, showed that more than 46% of the homes surveyed had levels of dust mite allergens high enough to produce allergic reactions, and nearly a quarter had levels high enough to trigger asthma symptoms in genetically susceptible people.

The survey also showed that nearly two-thirds of U.S. homes have detectable levels of cockroach allergens, with higher levels in high-rise apartments, urban settings, older homes and homes of low-income households. About 10% had cockroach allergen levels above the threshold for triggering asthma symptoms.

“One of the most surprising findings from the national survey was that 100% of homes had detectable levels of dog and cat allergen, even though dogs were present in only 32% of the surveyed homes, and cat ownership was reported in only 24%,” says Dr. Darryl Zeldin, a scientist with NIEHS and senior author of the study.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)4

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Smoking: Smoking Affects Allergy in Infants

Infants as young as 6 months old can become allergic to things they breathe in, bringing a stuffy nose, sneezing and other symptoms. In a new study of the environmental factors that might be involved, researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that exposure to more than 20 cigarettes a day was associated with an increased risk of developing such allergies by age one. Mold, another suspected culprit, didn’t increase the risk for allergy, but it did increase the risk of upper respiratory infections.

Researchers, supported by grants from NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, looked at 633 infants under 1 year old. They evaluated the impact of tobacco smoke, visible mold, pets, siblings, daycare attendance and breastfeeding practices on both allergy and upper respiratory infections.

They found that infants who are exposed to 20 or more cigarettes per day were almost 3 times more likely to have allergies to airborne compounds at age 1 as those who weren’t exposed. Infants living in high mold homes were over 5 times more likely to have upper respiratory infections than those who lived in homes where mold wasn’t visible. Infants with 2 or more older siblings actually had fewer allergy episodes in the first year. Race, gender, pet ownership and breastfeeding practices didn’t make any difference.

Some of these links have been reported before in older children and adults, but this is the first study to look at all these factors in infants under the age of 1. These findings highlight the importance of environmental exposures during the first year of life. Don’t smoke around your infants, and try to get rid of any mold in your house.

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2006/July/docs/02capsules.htm

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References

  1. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ spring15/ articles/ spring15pg26-27.html
  2. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ spring13/ articles/ spring13pg25.html
  3. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ 2006/ July/ docs/ 01features_01.htm
  4. ibid.

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