Seven European countries to participate in cutting edge research that will aid better understanding of food allergic incidents.
Patients with food allergies from Ireland, the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain and Poland have now the first-ever opportunity to live-report their allergic incidents to food in a vital implementation stage of the world’s largest study of food allergies ever undertaken.
Food allergy is a chronic disease classified in the same group as asthma or diabetes with no known cure. Up to 20 million European citizens suffer from allergies. Management of the disease by patients and health practitioners, and allergens by industry faces many challenges. There is general poor understanding of environmental or psychosocial aspects contributing to, or preventing allergic reactions to food, and no systematic monitoring of them. This leads to mismanagement, higher risk of future incidents, including life-threatening anaphylaxis, and lower quality of life.
Researchers and patients co-developed a multilingual website and mobile tool called AlleREACT (Allergic REACTions) to map the real frequency of incidents to food in near real-time. This concise yet comprehensive instrument is recording real-world circumstances of reactions, such as their location, type of food and allergen information involved, as well as clinical symptoms and any medication taken. The tool is free to use and already available in English, German, Spanish, French and Polish. This initiative has been accomplished within a €9 million EU funded project known as the Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management (iFAAM). The iFAAM project involves the world’s leading experts in Ireland, the UK, Europe, Australia and US and aims at reducing the burden of food allergies across Europe.
UCC Professor Jonathan Hourihane, Dr Audrey Dunn Galvin, and PhD researcher Katarzyna Pyrz lead this intervention together with the iFAAM’s project coordinator: Professor Clare Mills and a senior researcher: Professor Angela Simpson from the Allergy and Respiratory Centre of The University of Manchester’s Institute of Inflammation and Repair. Community leaders include Patient Organisations: Anaphylaxis Campaign (ACUK, UK), Anaphylaxis Ireland (AI), Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund e.V. (DAAB, Germany), La Prévention des Allergies; Association Française pour la Prévention des Allergies (AFPRAL, France and Belgium), Asociación Española de Personas con Alergia a Alimentos y Látex (AEPNAA, Spain) and Stowarzyszenie Pomocy Chorym na Astmę i Choroby Alergiczne w Łodzi (Poland).
“This is a massive research project which will have far reaching consequences for consumers and food producers”, says Professor Mills. “Uncertainty is a core theme in living and coping with food allergy and current risk hazard approaches perpetuate this uncertainty”, adds Dr Dunn Galvin, a medical psychologist. The reporting tool helps to reduce uncertainty around food allergic incidents by enabling patients, clinicians, researches and public authorities to get a clearer picture on how and how often reactions occur in the community and what can be done to prevent them. Katarzyna Pyrz concludes, “This research empowers patients’ advocates to run their own data collection and to take ownership for the reporting system in long term. This added community value allows the tools and data to serve those living and coping with food allergies on a day-to-day basis”.
All involved Patient Organisations and patients’ representatives agree, “This research is a vital and much-needed step forward, it will aid better understanding and management of food allergies and we are delighted to be part of it. The tool has been developed using patients’ contributions and the outcomes of this research may have important implications for food allergic people in Europe.”
Adults and parents of children diagnosed with food allergies in Ireland, the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain and Poland are asked to get familiar with this initiative and to use this tool anytime they experience a food allergic incident, even a mild one.
Fiona Kenna: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Marie Kelly: email@example.com
Katarzyna Pyrz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey DunnGalvin: A.Dunngalvin@ucc.ie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlleREACT2016 @AlleREACT2016