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New Foundation to help find cures for allergy & other immune diseases

9 September 2013

Allergy and other immune diseases are amongst the fastest growing chronic and complex health conditions in Australasia affecting one in four children and adults in Australia and New Zealand.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) said the rapid rise has resulted in an urgent need for new research to understand the reasons for the increasing prevalence and to help find potential new treatments and cures.

Today in Perth, ASCIA will launch the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA) to fund high quality education and research projects into disorders of the human immune system in Australia and New Zealand.

President of ASCIA, Clinical Associate Professor Richard Loh, said allergic disease – including asthma - affects almost 20% of Australians and New Zealanders, and this is rapidly increasing in young children.

“Food-induced anaphylaxis has doubled in the last 10 years and 10% of infants are now presenting with an immediate food allergy,” said A/Prof Loh.

“Severe allergies and primary immunodeficiency diseases are serious, potentially life threatening conditions that are increasing in both number and complexity. Living with these conditions can significantly affect quality of life.”

A/Prof Loh said that there are over 100 autoimmune diseases and these can lead to significant disability. They are now more common than cancer or heart disease, affecting 5% of people in Australia and New Zealand.

A/Prof Loh said AIFA is a much-needed initiative to fund urgently needed research and high quality education programs for allergies and other immune diseases.

“AIFA will provide funding to support educational and research projects selected by an expert panel. AIFA aims to support research that will help us to understand the causes of the rapid rise in immune diseases, particularly allergy; research into new technologies such as genetic testing and newborn screening for primary immunodeficiency; and research to find new treatments, cures and, ultimately, prevention for allergic and other immune diseases.”

“Far reaching education programs will better equip health professionals with earlier detection and increase public awareness about allergy and other immune diseases.

“The earlier the detection, the better the health outcome,” said A/Prof Loh.

Donations to AIFA can be made at www.allergyimmunology.org.au with donations of $100 of more to be listed on the website.

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Media contact: Emma-Jane Morcombe @ gtmedia:

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