An international collaboration led by the University of Dundee has made a significant breakthrough that sheds some light on the mystery of peanut allergies.
Peanut allergy is a potentially deadly disease that affects between 1% and 2% of children in the UK. Over the past 30 years the numbers affected have dramatically increased, but the causes of the disease are unknown.
Researchers have identified a gene defect that can triple the risk of a child developing a peanut allergy. The gene responsible – Filaggrin – has also been shown to be significant factor in causing eczema and asthma.
“It was a logical next step to investigate whether Filaggrin may also be a cause of peanut allergy, since a child may develop all three of these diseases together,” said Dr Sara Brown, who worked on the study.
Professor Irwin McLean, a leading light on Filaggrin added: “The Filaggrin defect is not THE cause of peanut allergy but we have established it as a factor in many cases. We don’t yet know enough about the causes but this is an important step.”
The difficulties of living with peanut allergies are all too well known by the Martin family of Carnoustie. Mum Julie has suffered all her life, ending up in hospital on more than one occasion.
Her two children Oliver and Chloe also suffer from allergic conditions, Oliver from severe food allergies and Chloe from eczema. Finding safe foods is a constant struggle, and it's families like the Martins which the study is aiming to help.