Before we have any hope for a food allergy cure, we need to understand why food allergies exist in the first place. Some studies say genetics play a role. Other claims involve genetically engineered foods. There’s even a Hygiene Theory that attributes the rise of food allergies to changes in our environment and society (cleaner water, cleaner dishes, the emphasis on hand sanitizer, antibiotics ) have resulted in changes in our immune systems. But the truth is, there is no scientific or medical conclusion as to why food allergies exist and why the number is rising (approximately 50 percent increase between 1997 and 2011).
Well now we’ve got some of the world’s most brilliant minds on the case.
Researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, its partner institutions and Yale School of Medicine are launching an initiative to tackle the science of food allergies.
According to a Broad Institute news release on Wednesday, the Food Allergy Science Initiative (FASI) “aims to accelerate the pace of discovery in this field and enable the development of new diagnostics and treatments through a coordinated effort that brings together specialists from a variety of disciplines including immunology, gastroenterology, computational biology, molecular biology, and bioengineering to answer fundamental questions pertaining to food allergy.”
In Layman’s terms, I could actually potentially maybe have a shot at being able to eat a slice of cheese pizza in my lifetime. Now I’m a pretty cynical person when it comes to food allergies, but I can’t help the pep in my step after learning just who is involved in this crusade.
Current participants include researchers from Yale School of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School (HMS), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and MIT, in addition to the Broad. Along with Medzhitov and Regev, FASI’s scientific leadership includes Vijay Kuchroo (Broad, HMS, BWH); J. Christopher Love (Broad, MIT); Wayne Shreffler (MGH, HMS); and Ramnik Xavier (Broad, MGH, MIT, HMS).
What’s equally, if not more, impressive is how FASI came to be. Lesley Solomon had to take her 6-year-old son to the hospital when he suffered an anaphylactic reaction during a food challenge in his doctor’s office. Not long after the terrifying incident, Lesley took action and found three other food allergy moms to raise $10 million for the seed funding of FASI. (And here I am just composing weekly rants on the subject.)
You can bet your ass I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out for any breakthroughs and updates!