Allergy research: new concepts for allergy prevention!
Preventing allergies before they arise, that would be better than any therapy! In fact, research is already looking at concepts for allergy prevention. “The better we understand the causes that lead to early immune system derailment, the more promising the chances for primary prevention,” emphasizes Prof. Eckard Hamelmann, head physician at the Children‘s Center of the Bethel Protestant Hospital in Bielefeld and 1. Vice President of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI).
Focus on three concepts for allergy prevention
Research is currently focusing on three concepts for allergy prevention. One concept of allergy prevention is to create a specific allergy tolerance as early as possible, especially in children with allergy risk.
An English study has shown: If you bring an allergy-prone child into contact with potential allergens very early on – in this case, that was the peanut – the immune system has the opportunity to classify it as harmless and tolerate it instead of triggering an allergic immune reaction.
Ideally, this should prevent sensitization from occurring in the first place. Science is even going one step further. “The earliest form of primary prevention for a child at risk of allergy would be allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) during pregnancy,” reports Prof. Hamelmann, “however, research is still being conducted on this as well”.
Search for prevention options in children
Also, for children who are at risk of developing atopic dermatitis, we are looking at ways to prevent it, for example by taking care of their skin early and regularly. “Atopic dermatitis is most often associated with a barrier defect in the skin, so applying creams early and regularly could reduce the effects of this defect,” explains Prof. Hamelmann.
It may be possible to effectively reduce early allergic sensitization through the skin as the “start of the atopic march” to asthma. However, this concept is controversial. “A recently published study from England (Barrier Enhancement for Eczema Prevention, BEEP) could not confirm the results from previous studies that early creaming can prevent the development of atopic dermatitis,” explains Prof. Hamelmann.
Strengthening the gastrointestinal barrier as allergy prevention
Another concept of allergy prevention is also based on strengthening a barrier, but this one involves the gastrointestinal tract. “Just as neurodermatitis sufferers have a barrier disorder of the skin, food allergy sufferers have an immune disorder and possibly also a barrier disorder at the mucosa of the stomach and intestines” so Prof. Hamelmann.
The idea now is to strengthen the gastrointestinal barrier by using prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics at a very early stage and to stimulate the immune system to develop tolerance to harmless food proteins. Thus the allergy readiness and thus the condition for clinical allergy complaints are to be lowered clearly.