Allergy is the immune system’s excessive sensitivity and over-response to otherwise harmless foreign substances (allergens) such as plant pollens, house dust mites, animal hair or certain foods, treating them as if they were real threats. Despite significant use of predominantly symptomatic medications, there remains an important unmet medical need in the allergic patient population.
The most common causes of respiratory allergy:
Respiratory allergies have a significant impact on the patient, family and society affecting quality of life, including physical, psychological and social functioning, in addition to a financial impact.
The incidence and prevalence of respiratory allergies is increasing worldwide. It is estimated that 22 million adults suffer from physician-diagnosed allergic rhinitis in the four biggest European immunotherapy markets (Germany, France, Italy, Spain) and 25 million in the United States, and only 4.3 million patients are treated with allergy immunotherapy. Only 55% of the patients who suffer from allergic rhinitis have been diagnosed by a physician.
The fact that allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma frequently co-exist seems to suggest that these seemingly separate disorders are the same disease, with symptoms occurring to a greater or lesser extent in the upper airways (rhinitis) or lower airways (asthma). When patients with either allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma are thoroughly investigated, it is frequently found that they have allergic inflammation and airway sensitivity throughout all of the airways.
Despite effective management of symptoms in patients, there is still a high unmet medical need due to the lack of compliance.
The most common causes of food allergy
Food allergy is an abnormal immune response to certain foods that the body reacts to as harmful, with the most severe manifestation being anaphylaxis. Estimates of the prevalence of food allergies range from approximately 4% to 8% of children and 2% of adults. Currently, the reason for food allergies is poorly understood, but the prevalence of food allergies and associated anaphylaxis appears to be on the rise and there is no cure.
The best method for managing food allergies is prevention by strict avoidance of any food containing the allergens. Children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related diseases such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies. Therefore, the development of an immunotherapy treatment for food allergy may prevent the allergic march from food allergy to asthma requiring life-long use of corticosteroids for management of symptoms.
Eight foods account for about 90% of all food-allergy reactions: cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts ( i.e.: walnuts, pecans, almonds, and cashews), fish, shellfish, soybeans, and wheat.
According to the White Book on Allergy (WAO, Update 2013), there are 240-550 million people with potential food-allergies, a huge global health burden.
Some allergic reactions are mild and resolve themselves naturally, but the most severe allergic reactions to food can lead to anaphylaxis and death. Therefore, accurate diagnosis of food allergy is considered of utmost importance.
In particular, allergic reactions to peanuts in both children and adults can be severe and can involve life-threatening anaphylaxis.