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Breakthrough made in fight against allergies

15th March 2011

A new discovery has been made by experts in Scotland researching the cause of nut allergies, which they claim may lead to new treatments for the conditions.

Specialists at Dundee University have found that a defect in the filaggrin gene can triple the risk of a child developing peanut allergies.

Lead author of the study Dr Sara Brown described the discovery as a 'major scientific breakthrough'.

She noted that a faulty filaggrin gene has previously been shown to be a significant factor in the cause of eczema and asthma and also appears to be present in one in five peanut allergy sufferers.

Dr Brown, a clinical fellow in the division of molecular medicine at the university, explained: 'Allergic conditions often run in families, which tells us that inherited genetic factors are important. Now, for the first time, we have a genetic change that can be firmly linked to peanut allergy.'

The expert said the new understanding may lead to earlier identification of allergies in children and more effective treatments.

Last month, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published guidelines on how to deal with allergies in children, as hospital admissions for food allergies have increased by over 500 per cent since 1990. 

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