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NIH Funds Food Allergy Consortium with $29.9M Grant

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) –The National Institutes of Health this week announced it has awarded a five-year, $29.9 million grant to the Consortium of Food Allergy Research.

The grant is renewal funding, and in addition to supporting CoFar's continuing development of new approaches to prevent and treat food allergies, the money will be used to conduct research into the genetic causes of food allergies and food allergy-related eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases, or EGIDs, NIH said in a statement.

Funding for CoFar comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

"Key research on eosinophils has confirmed the important role they play in inflammatory disease of the upper GI tract," Griffin Rodgers, director of NIDDK, said in NIH's statement. "We hope the new genetic studies involving EGIDs will help researchers identify and develop novel treatments."

About 5 percent of children and 4 percent of adults in the US suffer from food allergies. While the causes of food allergies and EGIDs are unknown, they appear to have a genetic component, NIH said. Genes that may be responsible have never been identified, however.

NIAID established CoFar in 2005 with five clinical sites. In its first phase, CoFar initiated three clinical studies looking at treatments for peanut and egg allergies. An observational study was also initiated into factors that may correlate with whether an individual's allergy continues or resolves itself.

These studies will continue, NIH said. In addition, the program will be expanded to include two new research sites studying genes associated with food allergy and three consulting sites that will study eosinophilic esophagitis.

A new clinical trial will also be funded to study whether a peanut protein applied to the skin can be used as a treatment for peanut allergy.

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