New flour could help treat food allergies
A new type of flour that someday could be used in food-based therapies to help people better tolerate their allergy triggers, including peanuts, has been developed by scientists at the University of a North Carolina.
The research, published in April 2014 in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that plant polyphenols could dampen allergic reactions.
The scientists developed a modified flour powder in which cranberry polyphenols were bound to peanut proteins. With this extra cargo, the peanut-containing powder triggered the beneficial desensitization reactions, without provoking harmful allergic responses in laboratory tests with mice. The scientists noted that the technique could also be adapted for other food allergies.
Peanut allergies most severe
Mary Ann Lila from the Plants for Human Health Institute, Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, at North Carolina State University, and her colleagues on the study noted that of the 170 foods that cause allergic reactions, peanuts can be the most dangerous. These reactions can range from mild itching and hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock, in which a person’s throat swells, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
An experimental treatment that involves giving minute quantities of the trigger food to patients over a period of time in a clinic is successful for some patients who are allergic to peanuts. The process, called desensitization, sets off beneficial responses by the body to the food. But the milled roasted peanut flour that is currently used can have severe side effects. Ms Lila’s team said the flour they developed could help control food allergies without causing dangerous side effects.
The authors acknowledge funding from the Everett W. Byrd Endowment and the North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus at Kannapolis.