Novel Approaches to Food Allergy
Food allergies have increased in recent decades. However, they cannot be effectively treated by the current management, which is limited to the identification and avoidance of foods that induce allergies and to the use of medicines for symptoms relief. To meet the medical need of prevention and cure of food allergies, several therapeutic strategies are under investigation. Some newly developed biologics such as anti-IgE antibody and anti-interleukin (IL)-5 antibody directed against significant molecules in the allergic process have shown their potential for the treatment of food allergies. Allergen-specific immunotherapy is the therapy that induces immune tolerance and may reduce the need for conventional medication, severity of allergic symptoms and eliminate hypersensitivity. In this article, clinical studies of immunotherapy via subcutaneous, oral, sublingual, and epicutaneous routes are extensively reviewed for their safety and effectiveness on various food allergies. In addition, to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis and increase toleragenic immunity, many studies are focusing on the modification of traditional allergens used for immunotherapy. Moreover, a Chinese herbal formulation with potential anti-allergic effects is being evaluated for its efficacy in patients with peanut allergy. Although more studies are needed, accumulated data of current studies represent compelling evidence of curative effects of some strategies and give a hope that food allergies are likely to be successfully treated in the future.