Researchers report a breakthrough discovery in allergy medicine. The research, published in Nature Medicine, found a species of infant gut bacteria that protects against food allergies. The findings have the potential to create a sea-change in allergy prevention and treatment.
An allergy is an immune system reaction to something harmless to most people. The immune system fights illness and keeps you well. When you have an allergy, your immune system falsely recognizes the allergen as a danger to your health. It sends out antibodies to protect you, which is an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to eggs, which are normally harmless when fresh, it means your body mistakes eggs for something like poison. An allergic reaction can range from mild respiratory irritation to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition.
Today, the front-line treatment for allergies is oral immunotherapy. Your doctor gives you a small dose of the allergen itself, slowly increasing the amount. This allows your body to build up a tolerance. Oral immunotherapy can help make your allergies less severe. Still, the only way to completely prevent an allergic reaction is to completely avoid the thing you are allergic to.
A New Discovery
The groundbreaking research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital was performed on a group of laboratory mice. The researchers gave mice an oral formulation of “five or six” species of human infant gut bacteria. The bacteria were effective in protecting the mice from developing allergies. In mice who already had established allergies, the bacteria actually reversed the illness. They became allergy-free.
“With these microbes, we are resetting the immune system,” said co-senior author Lynn Bry, MD, Ph.D., director of the Massachusetts Host-Microbiome Center at the Brigham.
This new approach, called bacteriotherapy, changes the immune system’s wiring. Unlike the current (immunotherapy) method, it does so without using the allergens themselves. One of the benefits of bacteriotherapy is it has the potential to make you immune to food allergies as a category, instead of one food at a time. It represents “a better therapeutic and better diagnostic approach to disease.”
“This has given us a credible therapeutic that we can now take forward for patient care,” said Bry.
Sometimes, allergies can be difficult to diagnose. The signs and symptoms are not always severe. They can even be mistaken for the common cold. To distinguish between a cold and allergies, pay attention to substances (foods, scents, chemicals, etc.) that you come into contact with. If you have a reaction every time you drink milk, you may have a dairy allergy. To be sure, you should always consult with an established allergy doctor.
Allergy Treatment Options
Allergy treatment options range from short-term symptom control to long-term allergy relief. What your doctor prescribes will depend on the severity of your condition.
Dr. xxx may recommend a combination of the following:
- Allergy Drops (Immunotherapy)
- Nasal Sprays
- Leukotriene Inhibitors
- Mast Cell Inhibitors
One of your best options is allergy drops. Allergy drops are immunotherapy especially helpful for those who cannot tolerate allergy shots. They also work for people who don’t respond to allergy shots. Like any immunotherapy, allergy shots deliver a slowly increasing amount of antigen (allergen) until the body builds a tolerance to them. The drops are placed under the tongue, where they are absorbed. Research shows this is a friendlier and more effective route for long-term desensitization.
Dr. xxx recommends his patients keep using allergy drops for three to five years. This allows the body to build up a lasting, and possibly permanent, immunity. Contact Dr. xxx today to find out more.