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16 February 2012

FAAN Funds Anaphylaxis Study

The below is a Press Release from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Funds Study Focusing on Anaphylaxis
FAAN’s Research Grant Program Supports Scientists Dedicated to Improving Lives of Food-Allergic
Fairfax, VA – Food allergy reactions are impossible to predict – one reaction may be mild while another equates to anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. In an effort to improve our understanding of anaphylaxis, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s (FAAN) Research Grant Program has awarded $260,000 to be paid over a two year period to a scientist whose study seeks to answer several key questions about this life-threatening reaction.

Simon G.A. Brown, M.D., of the Centre for Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine, Western Australia Institute for Medical Research, has recently begun his two-year study, “Leukocyte signaling during human anaphylaxis.” By studying how the immune system is activated during anaphylaxis, Brown hopes to impact the design of future treatments and preventative strategies for food allergy, which is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.

“Food allergy among children is on the rise, so it is critical for us to gain knowledge about the mechanisms of anaphylaxis in order to try to develop a way to treat it effectively,” said FAAN CEO Maria L. Acebal. “Dr. Brown’s research will attempt to get us closer to these answers, a life-saving endeavor so critical to families living with food allergies.”

Brown’s team will use a genome-wide approach to identify factors that contribute to the severity and clinical symptoms of anaphylaxis. By analyzing blood samples from patients who were treated in the emergency department over time, Brown hopes to define the molecular pathways that are activated during anaphylaxis, and more importantly the sequence in which this occurs. FAAN previously funded Brown’s 2006 study, “Mediators of human anaphylaxis.”

“In our previous FAAN study we defined which cytokines – messenger proteins produced by cells – are involved in human anaphylaxis,” said Dr Brown. “We then formed a hypothesis that white cells in the blood may be a key part of the early inflammatory process that converts mild reactions into severe ones.”

“By studying the genes that are activated very early during a severe anaphylactic reaction (on arrival in the Emergency Department), measuring how the activation of other genes proceeds over the next few hours, and correlating this with the concentrations of inflammatory substances in the blood, we may be able to identify this key link,” he said.

FAAN’s competitive Research Grant Program has awarded more than $5 million since 2004. The program is funded by FAAN members and individual donors. For more information about FAAN, visit www.foodallergy.org.

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