A team of chemical and biomolecular engineers at the University of Notre Dame designed nanoparticles, or “nanoallergens”, that mimic natural allergens by displaying each allergic component one at a time on their surfaces. These nanoallergens are used to dissect the critical components of major peanut allergy proteins and evaluate the potency of the allergic response using the antibodies present in a blood sample from a patient.
“The goal of this study was to show how nanoallergen technology could be used to provide a clearer and more accurate assessment of the severity of an allergic condition,” said Basar Bilgicer, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a member of the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics initiative at Notre Dame. The goal of this new testing procedure is to replace the oral food challenge; which requires a patient to ingest small amounts of the offending food to the point of intolerance or anaphylaxis; and skin prick testing, which may have false-positive test results.
“We are currently working with allergy specialist clinicians for further testing and verification of the diagnostic tool using a larger patient population. Ultimately, our vision is to take this technology and make it available to all people who suffer from food allergies.”
I read a great blog post a few days ago, written by a guest blogger for FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). The blog post was written to encourage others to participate in Fare’s Food Allergy Heroes Walk. The take-home message for me was simple- Create Awareness.
My first profession was that of an elementary school teacher. I was young and single, with no children of my own. My ‘awareness’ of food allergies was very limited. I knew of food allergies, I’d heard of people being allergic to peanuts, but had no real understanding what that meant for a child with food allergies or a parent with a food-allergic child. Due to my inexperience, I didn’t have any understanding that being in contact with a peanut, or peanut butter, or a child who just ate a peanut butter sandwich for lunch could produce such disastrous outcomes- anaphylaxis, emergency rooms, feeling like nobody understands. I didn’t ‘get it’ when parents and organizations had wars with the airline industry about banning peanuts as snacks. I just thought, “Well, don’t eat the peanuts then.” I didn’t understand that there are people so allergic to peanuts that by simply breathing in the cabin air on an airplane could make them sick, or that by touching a seat-back someone touched who had recently eaten peanuts and then wiping their eyes, nose, or mouth could have a severe allergic reaction. I also was not aware that there were treatments for food allergies, such as allergy drops/sublingual immunotherapy.
Many years have gone by since I was a teacher, and I’m now a mother of three children, who thankfully do not have food allergies. However, I have become more ‘aware’. Aware of the needs of individuals with food allergies, aware of the needs of individuals as a whole- the need for sympathy and understanding from others, no matter what their ‘cause’ may be.
If you’re looking for a FARE walk, please follow the link to find a location near you.
Snacksafely.com announced the publication of this year’s Valentine’s Edition of the Safe Snack Guide, an extensive catalog of allergy-friendly foods used by thousands of schools and tens of thousands of parents nationwide to help keep allergens out of the classroom and the home.
This edition has an entire section devoted to allergy-friendly sweets for your sweetie! Many are available at your local supermarket or can be ordered online.
Find peanut, tree nut and Top 8 allergen-free, gluten-free, kosher, organic, and non-GMO foods from this fully interactive Guide!
Some parents are frustrated, but experts say the new guidelines are based on convincing results of clinical trials that studied children at risk for peanut allergies. How will this impact the introduction of other foods to infants?
There’s been a major shift in strategy for preventing potentially deadly peanut allergies. After a decade and a half of being told to keep peanuts away from small children, parents now are being told the opposite. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division within the National Institutes of Health, now recommends exposing infants to peanut protein when they’re only a few months old – ideally between the age of 4 to 6 months.
Top Tips for celebrating with family if you have some dietary restrictions.
Gathering with family is an important part of the holidays for most of us. If you suffer from food allergies or eat a restricted diet due to a health conditions, here are a few tips to consider.
Talk to the host prior to the event – Ask ahead of time what is on the menu and if the host would like you to bring something. If possible you might ask them to prepare the main course in a way that fits your dietary needs. You should also figure out if there will be enough dishes that you can eat to fill you or if you will need to bring your own food. By all means, do offer to bring a dish or two that you know you can eat and then share the love with everyone! I’m always tickled if family raves over my grain-free paleo-style dishes.
Know what it’s swimming in – I’ve found that most of the common food allergens come in the sauces, dressings or marinades. These culprits frequently contain gluten, dairy, egg, soy, or sugar. You may ask the host to hold aside a portion of undressed salad or fix your piece of chicken or fish with no marinade or sauce. I usually ask for olive oil, salt and garlic …It’s delicious every time and I know I’m not getting any hidden gluten or dairy in the sauce.
Send a package ahead of you – if you’re traveling to an area where there is no Whole Foods or natural grocery nearby to accessorize your diet, you can often ship ahead a small box of essentials. You can either pack them yourself or you can use a service, like Amazon or Vitacost and have them ship the necessary items. I frequently do this with non-perishables, like coconut milk, sunflower nut butter, chia seed, and high quality coconut or olive oils. Plus you can leave any of the gourmet leftover items with your host to enjoy! Better yet, order enough to get free shipping and include a hostess gift of some special gourmet food item that he/she cannot purchase locally. Organic dark chocolate or specialty cooking oils are a wonderful gift idea!
Don’t go hungry – When we are hungry our brains may bypass the filter of what we know to be a better choice. We’ll often we end up eating too much and pick foods that we’d normally avoid. This is why I vow never take my husband grocery shopping on an empty stomach… you just never know what will make it’s way into your shopping cart! 😉 Eat a small protein snack prior to heading out, like nuts/seeds, guacamole or jerky. If you know there will not be any safe options, it’s ok to eat your entire meal before you go and just enjoy the company and not the food.
BYOBF (Bring your own back-up food) – whether traveling by plane or car or just driving across town for a holiday get-together, you can never go wrong by having a few nonperishable snacks or options with you. You never know when you’ll get stranded in the car or in the airport for longer than expected. I carry things like packets of sunflower nut butter, coconut butter and shredded coconut, a piece of fruit, dried organic beef or bison jerky, Alter Eco 85% dark chocolate bar, and/or packets or tins of wild salmon or sardines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stranded somewhere longer than anticipated and hungry and so thankful for my little stash! As the true saying goes, “Fail to plan and plan to fail…”
Wishing you a most delightful and delicious holiday season making many memories with your loved ones!