AIFA Newsletter - November 2015
AIFA is delighted to announce its support of the following research projects that focus on allergy in childhood.
Understanding Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)
FPIES is an allergic disorder that occurs in approximately 1 in 10,000 children. The main symptom of FPIES is profuse vomiting, which can be accompanied by pallor, floppiness, hypotension and hypothermia. Most affected children have their first reaction before one year of age. FPIES reactions may be triggered by a variety of foods, although the most common triggers in Australia are staple foods such as cow's milk, rice, oats, soy and eggs.
This research team, led by Dr Sam Mehr, (pictured above at rear with from left, Professor Dianne Campbell, Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Dr Katie Frith, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and Eric Lee, medical student) aims to better understand what genes are switched on in an FPIES reaction to improve diagnosis and treatment. They will be looking at tests to predict whether children are still allergic to the food which gave them the FPIES reaction, and how long it takes infants to outgrow their allergy. This is important so that children are not unnecessarily avoiding an important food for a prolonged period of time.
Development of the Immune System and Allergy in Childhood
Dr Peter Hsu, and his research team, has been awarded the AIFA Early Career Researcher Grant to explore the development of the immune system in childhood.
Dr Hsu has completed his PhD in how the immune system is regulated to accommodate the baby in human pregnancy. This project will look at how the regulatory part of the immune system may develop in healthy children, and then examine how this process may be disturbed in children with allergies. "Funding from AIFA will greatly facilitate the completion of this project", he says. Projects like this will lead to more strategic approaches to the prevention and treatment of allergies.
Dr Hsu’s team includes Professor Dianne Campbell and Dr Melanie Wong from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Professor Ralph Nanan from the Nepean Hospital.
AIFA aims to encourage new research from future leaders like Dr Hsu.
For more information on these projects go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au/projects
Tragically, last month a 57 year-old truck driver, Mark Williams, died after an allergic reaction to a bee sting in Western Australia.
"Mark did take his allergy seriously but his death shows how dangerous allergies can be and how quickly something can happen,” his wife Maree said in an article in The West Australian.
A donation in Memoriam from his friends and colleagues is now listed on the Donors page of the AIFA website www.allergyimmunology.org.au/donations/donors
Allergies to venoms from stinging insects are one of the most common causes of severe allergic reactions in Australia. Severe symptoms of an allergic reaction to insects include difficult/noisy breathing, swelling of tongue or throat, difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice, wheeze or persistent cough, persistent dizziness or collapse, abdominal pain, vomiting. If any one of these symptoms present, the person should be given an adrenaline autoinjector (such as EpiPen) and taken to hospital.
ASCIA has recently updated their nformation on allergic reactions to insect bites and stings: www.allergy.org.au/patients/insect-allergy-bites-and-stings
Following her revelation about her lupus diagnosis, singer Selena Gomez gave more details about her condition on the Ellen DeGeneres show recently. With millions of viewers worldwide, it was a great platform for raising awareness of this disease. Gomez explained that lupus is an autoimmune disease, which will stay with her for the rest of her life.
Natalie Cromb, an Australian blogger, has written a moving account of her family's personal story as her sister struggles with Lupus. She writes:
Chronic illness changes people - it changes families.
Chronic illness is not understood by those who aren't in the trenches with it.
Chronic illness is a lifetime on the sidelines, battling for moments. A life not lived but endured.
Read Natalie's account of the hard reality of Lupus on her blog: http://nataliecromb.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/chronic-illness-and-its-crippling.html
Lupus is most common in women (90%) and the majority develop the condition between 15 and 45. To find out more go to www.allergy.org.au/patients/autoimmunity/systemic-lupus-erythematosus-sle
To donate to research or in memory of someone you love with Lupus go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au
Immune Deficiencies Foundation Australia is organising an Immunology Seminar in Canberra at the Fenkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research at 1pm on 12th December. Highlighting an overview of the immune system and Primary Immune Deficiencies (PID), AIFA Grant Selection Panelist Professor Matthew Cook will talk about the work of the Centre for Personalised Immunology and Adam Friederich will talk about the patient experience with PID and SCIg treatment.
Links to patient support organisations can be found at www.allergy.org.au/patients/patient-support-organisations
Acute allergic reactions frequently occur away from home. Severe allergic reactions may occur unpredictably, so schools and childcare facilities should be prepared for this potential medical emergency. ASCIA has just published its updated version of Guidelines for the Prevention of Anaphylaxis in Schools, Preschools and Childcare in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, October 2015.
The aim of ASCIA's guidelines is to assist staff in school and childcare settings to plan and implement appropriate risk minimisation strategies, taking into consideration the needs of the allergic child, the likely effectiveness of measures and the practicality of implementation. Although these guidelines include risk minimisation strategies for allergic reactions to insect stings or bites, latex and medication, the major focus is on food allergy. This is due to the higher prevalence of food allergy in childhood and the higher likelihood of accidental exposure.
The guidelines have been posted on the ASCIA website with permission from Wiley Publishing and the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. See www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/papers/prevent-anaphylaxis-in-schools-childcare
Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is a common and debilitating disease affecting around 1 in 5 people in Australia and New Zealand. Despite its common name, it is not caused by hay and does not result in fever. Even though it was known that pollen rather than hay was the cause as far back as the early 1800's, the term hay fever stuck. Pollen from grasses, weeds or trees, released in spring, can trigger symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. It is that time of year.
Symptoms are caused by the body's immune response to inhaled pollen, resulting in chronic inflammation of the eyes and nasal passages. People with allergic rhinitis often suffer from fatigue due to poor quality sleep. It can impair learning and performance in children, result in more frequent absenteeism in adults and reduced productivity, and therefore can cause considerable impairment to quality of life.
Around 8 in 10 people with asthma have allergic rhinitis, and this can make asthma more difficult to control.
To help people who suffer from pollen induced allergic rhinitis, a project known as the Australian Pollen Allergen Partnership was established to provide a standardised, readily accessible and reliable pollen count network to provide current local information to patients and doctors for the major Australian cities.
This project is supported by a grant from the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia. See www.allergyimmunology.org.au/projects.
For more information on allergic rhinitis visit www.allergy.org.au and search allergic rhinitis
Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA)
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PO Box 450 Balgowlah NSW 2093 Australia
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AIFA is dedicated to funding medical research into allergy and other immune diseases in Australia and New Zealand.
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