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The 17th annual Allergy Academy Food Allergy Study Day at St Thomas hospital in the UK brought together experts to discuss critical topics in food allergy research. Professor Adam Fox, a renowned paediatric allergy specialist and Chair of the UK’s National Allergy Strategy Group, presented fascinating insights on food allergies, including:

Prevalence: A More Nuanced Picture

Professor Fox referenced a recent review by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), suggesting no significant increase in the prevalence of eight common food allergies (milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish) over the past decade. This data seemingly contradicts the widely held belief that food allergies are on the rise. However, the review didn’t account for newer allergies like sesame and flaxseed, which might be contributing to the overall perception of increased prevalence.

Treatment Advancements: Beyond Oral Immunotherapy

While oral immunotherapy (OIT) remains a frontrunner in food allergy treatment, Professor Fox highlighted other promising avenues. Sublingual immunotherapy, involving allergen absorption through the tongue, and epicutaneous immunotherapy, utilising skin patches, are emerging alternatives. Additionally, biologic drugs have demonstrated potential in recent studies, offering hope for future treatment options.

Challenges of Severity Scoring

Professor Fox addressed the critical yet complex issue of food allergy severity scores. These scores act as a guide for personalised treatment decisions and resource allocation within healthcare systems. However, establishing a standardised system proves challenging due to the diverse nature of allergic reactions.

The Takeaway

Professor Fox’s presentation sheds light on the evolving landscape of food allergies. While challenges persist in accurately assessing prevalence and establishing universal severity scoring, ongoing research on treatments like OIT, sublingual immunotherapy, and biologics offer a positive outlook for managing food allergies in the future.

The upcoming annual EAACI summit in Valencia, Spain will offer further insights into the state of food allergy research in Europe and globally, including the emergence of new treatment options in the increasingly widening food allergy space.