Science Market Update

National Jewish Health Research Saves The Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich

Posted by BCI Staff on Mon, Nov 19, 2012


In the United States more than 15 million people suffer from food allergies. One of the deadliest is to peanuts. Peanut allergies are such a dangerous allergy that many public places have chosen to eliminate peanuts from the menu, rather than risk someone dying from an allergic reaction, such as some airlines and schools.  Researchers at National Jewish Health have found a new way to combat peanut and other food related allergic reactions, thus bringing the PB&J back to children everywhere.  This discovery comes at an opportune time because it seems that food allergies are on the rise.

Since 1997-2007 there has been an 18% increase in the number of individuals with food allergies. The most worrisome issue is during that time the number new cases of peanut allergies has tripled. Peanut allergy reactions run from simple reactions such as a rash, to the extreme reactions like anaphylactic shock. Of the total number of people with food allergies, almost 6 million are children, accounting for 6% of the entire child population. Compared to the population of adults who have allergies, children outnumber them by half. Often children with food allergies outgrow some types, but not typically the peanut allergy.

Clearly peanut allergies are becoming more and more a reality not only for adults, but also more shockingly for children. Within hours or even minutes after a peanut is ingested it can turn into a full body reaction. After ingestion the peanuts enter the blood stream through absorption via the intestines. Once reaching the blood stream the peanuts induce an immune response that leads to allergic symptoms. According to the National Institute of Health, between 15,000 and 30,000 anaphylaxis reactions occur each year from food.

At National Jewish Health, scientists have found a new way to fight peanut allergies. A research team lead by Erwin Gelfand, MD is studying mice with peanut allergies. The scientists fed the mice peanuts and monitored the their reactions. It was found that Pim 1 kinase went up, as well as allergy cytokine molecules, and inflammatory cells. Pim 1 kinase, while the concentration of Runx3 mRNA fell. To understand how Pim 1 functioned, they administered a small molecule that stopped Pim 1 from working. Amazingly they found the levels of Pim 1 fell as well as the allergenic response. The mice stopped having a majority of the peanut allergy symptoms as well as diarrhea. Moreover, the concentration of histamine fell to almost normal levels and the Runx3 mRNA rose back to normal.

According to Dr. Gelfand, “Pim 1, and its associated transcription factor, Runx3, play a crucial role in allergic reactions to peanuts. As such, they offer promising new targets for the treatment of allergic reactions to peanuts, and possibly other foods.”

Dr. Erwin Gelfand is the chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and is part of the Integrated Department of Immunology at National Jewish Health. According to US News & World Report, he is one of American Top Physicians in 2012. His research focus areas include: allergy, asthma, Inflammation, Autoimmunity/ Rheumatology, Basic Immunology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, and Infectious Diseases. The Department of Integrated Immunology is a collaborative department made up of researchers from National Jewish Health and University of Colorado School of Medicine. If you interested in reading more articles on National Jewish Health in our science market update blog, please follow this link

If you are a science researcher or a supplier of science laboratory tools and equipment in Colorado and would like to meet life science researchers, purchasing managers, and industry representatives, plan to attend the 3rd Annual National Jewish Health BioResearch Product Faire™ event situated at the National Jewish Health campus, June 21, 2013. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. provides researchers and science suppliers with the opportunity to connect, network and solve research challenges together throughout the nation.

If you are unable to attend here are some other Biotechnology Calendar Inc. events this summer in Colorado: 

Tags: biomedical research, Bioresearch, 2012, Life Science Market Update., Denver, Front Line event, CO, Colorado, National Jewish Health University, NJH

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