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The Utah-based startup Pollen Sense LLC, has built a machine that offers real time automated pollen imaging and analysis provided through a smartphone app.
In simplistic terms, the machine, about the size of a small toolbox, pulls in air samples, is then read by a microscope that feeds information through a computer to an smartphone app that gives an individual the current pollen counts and what kind of pollen it is.
The app can also receive information from the user and keep a history of what pollen affects the user and provide the user with warnings and updates. The app is initially free but will have some cost if used for more alerts and warnings.
“It is sending information every five minutes,” said Nathan Allan, co-founder. “You can get it (on the app) every hour. For the first time ever, you can prevent and know when and where you can go outside.”
A new research study reports that a vaccine delivered as an ultrafine nasal spray was found to limit or prevent peanut allergy symptoms in mice. This study is the first step in potentially developing a vaccine to treat food allergies in humans, reports Science Daily.
Researchers with the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center at the University of Michigan developed the vaccine as a new form of immunotherapy to treat allergies to peanut.
“Right now, the only FDA-approved way to address food allergy is to avoid the food or suppress allergic reactions after they have already started,” said lead author Jessica O’Konek, PhD. “Our goal is to use immunotherapy to change the immune system’s response by developing a therapeutic vaccine for food allergies.”
During an allergic reaction, the body’s immune system overreacts to an allergen, that is, an otherwise harmless protein. Allergen immunotherapy attempts to retrain the immune system to tolerate the allergen. Other peanut allergy immunotherapies being tested in human clinical trials have been shown to improve peanut tolerance in many, but not all, peanut allergy patients. This tolerance can be lost if maintenance doses of peanut are discontinued; additionally, adverse reactions can occur during immunotherapy.
A non-profit organization named End Allergies Together has committed $1,000,000 in funding to finance research into preventing anaphylaxis related to food allergies.
The $1 Million Grand Challenge to End Anaphylaxis is the first in a series of challenges to address key areas in food allergy research and requires scientific collaboration across health conditions and within the investment community, according to the organization.
The Challenge will accelerate ways to detect, prevent or better treat anaphylaxis — a serious allergic reaction to stimuli such as food, medication, or venom and may be fatal if not treated quickly with epinephrine and evaluated by medical professionals.
Incidence and prevalence of anaphylaxis is increasing: According to FAIR Health’s most recent study of private insurance claims, anaphylactic food reaction diagnoses grew 377% from 2007 to 2016.
In Phase I of the Challenge, applicant teams with the most developed and innovative plans for detecting, preventing or treating anaphylaxis will receive up to a $1 million investment to seed their plans. In Phase II, teams who successfully reach their benchmarks then receive follow-on funding to further advance their ideas. Phase I winners will be announced in early 2020. Details and deadlines can be found atEndAllergiesTogether.com/Challenge.
“It’s the constant threat of anaphylaxis from food that has control over us and instills way too much fear in our daily lives,” emphasizes Ben Carter, who is an EAT Challenge Panelist and a parent of children with food allergies. “EAT’s video ‘One Word’ gets to the core of how those of us feel who are affected by or have loved ones with food allergies.”
Dr. Joon Yun, MD, an EAT Challenge Panelist, added: “Grand Challenges can help nurture innovations in areas of unmet needs. The excitement associated with Grand Challenge competitions can help attract more attention, people, ideas, and funding to the issues of anaphylaxis and food allergies.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 19.9 million US adults and 5.6 million youths may have hay fever.
All told, an estimated 50 million Americans have some type of allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
While the best approach to spring allergies is avoiding pollen, that may be becoming a bit more difficult. A recent study suggests that, at least in the northern hemisphere, “the ongoing increase in temperature extremes” is contributing to a longer pollen season and more pollen overall.
Jackie Garrett, MD, a board-certified allergist and immunologist, speaks about the treatments for seasonal allergies.
It is important to check in with your primary care provider or board-certified allergist to make certain that there is no reason you should not be using a particular allergy medication.
The gold standard for nasal symptoms such as stuffy, runny, itchy is the nasal steroid such as Nasacort, Flonase, Rhinocort.
Twenty-four-hour antihistamines can be helpful mostly with nasal symptoms like itch or sneeze. Examples include Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, Xyzal. These can cause dry eyes though in certain populations.
Antihistamine eye drops can be helpful for eye itching or tearing. Ketotifen is an example.
Research shows that climate change is at least partly to blame for the allergy season becoming increasingly worse, reports Forbes.
The new study, by USDA scientist Lewis Ziska and colleagues from 15 other countries, looked at airborne pollen data from 17 locations, spanning the entire globe, and stretching back an average of 26 years. The news isn’t good for allergy sufferers:
“Overall, the long-term data indicate significant increases in both pollen loads and pollen season duration over time.”
In other words, it’s a double whammy: we getting more pollen than ever before, and the allergy season last longer. Okay, not that much longer, only an average of one day. But if you have hay fever, every day is one too many.
To be fair, not every location experienced a significant increase in pollen.
You may never hear of The Hartford Yard Goats again, but the minor league baseball team from Connecticut became the first American sports franchise to ban peanuts and cracker jack at its home stadium. The team cites health concerns of fans with severe food allergies as the rationale for the ban.
“Eliminating one item allows more kids to enjoy a baseball game,” team president Tim Restall told The Washington Post. “That’s what we’re focused on. We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”
No one would argue a stadium’s snack offerings are more important than fan health and safety—well, no one except the thousands of self-involved “traditionalists” who have voiced their outrage in wake of the announcement. Their outrage focuses on the specific foods banned, because 111 years ago two songwriters in New York City dropped a lyric into their song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” that read, “Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack.” In the last century two things have happened: the song became the unofficial anthem of baseball, and, more recently, an alarming number of Americans have developed deadly food allergies, namely to peanuts.
According to the Food Allergy Research & Education nearly 1-in-10 children has some sort of food allergy, and up to 2% of children have an allergy to peanuts. For some of these allergy sufferers, exposure to even the smallest amounts of peanuts can trigger anaphylaxis, and avoiding peanuts at most baseball stadiums is not a guarantee—until the Yard Goats’ ban.
The team rightly points out that fans upset with the ban can eat peanuts before or after attending the game, or at home. It’s fair to say the team may lose some fans over the issue. Those who choose not to attend over some sort of feigned effrontery have the freedom to do so, but, thanks to the Yard Goats, their allergy-suffering fans finally have the freedom to choose as well—and that’s something more American than even baseball, peanuts, or cracker jack. RT
Mike Fratantoro is chief editor of RT. For more information contact editor@nullRTmagazine.com.
As we head into grass pollen season over the next few months, here’s an option to consider: Many allergists now prescribe immunotherapy tablets, which work in the same way as allergy shots, reports NPR.
But unlike allergy shots, which require frequent trips to the doctor, you can take the tablets at home. “It’s a little wafer you put under your tongue, and it dissolves in about 10 seconds,” says allergist Mike Tankersley, who practices in Memphis, Tenn.
The treatment, known as sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, is more convenient than shots and has been shown to be safe. But it won’t work for everyone. Each tablet targets just one allergy. There are four FDA-approved tablet products on the market to treat grass pollens, house dust mitesand ragweed.
If you find you struggle to snooze during the springtime and summer months, it may be because your allergies are affecting your sleep.
“Almost half of people who suffer from seasonal allergies experience sleep difficulties. Allergy sufferers take longer to fall asleep at night, and wake up more often during sleep that those without allergies,” Dr. Holly Phillips, a board-certified general internist.
“If you have allergic symptoms during the day, and you are having trouble sleeping at night, it is most likely that the histamine being produced is causing your brain to stay on high alert,” Dr. Jim LaValle, a clinical pharmacist and board certified clinical nutritionist, tells Bustle.
According to a case report published in BMJ, a woman in Spain was rushed to the emergency department after she had an anaphylactic response to her partner’s semen. The semen reportedly contained traces of amoxicillin, to which the woman is allergic.
“To our knowledge, this is the first case reported of a suspicion of amoxicillin-induced anaphylaxis in a woman after a sexual contact with a man who was taking the drug, we hypothesized an oral drug transfer through semen,” the researchers wrote in BMJ.
Few studies have investigated whether drugs might get concentrated in semen, but they note that it’s theoretically plausible in this case due to the chemical composition of seminal plasma and amoxicillin, which readily dissolves in fats.
Thankfully, the patient was treated with anaphylaxis medication and made a full recovery.