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Food Allergy Breakthrough

A widely used drug treating chronic severe asthma also significantly reduces reactions to many common food allergens, new research presented yesterday revealed. Marketed under the brand name Xolair, the drug is the first preventive treatment that protects users from accidental life-threatening exposures. 

The drug is composed of antibodies that bind and deactivate a molecule in the blood known as immunoglobulin E, which otherwise trigger the immune system when certain allergens are present. In trials, patients not only withstood exposures—two-thirds reported being able to ingest small amounts of food that would typically trigger a reaction.

Roughly 19 million people in the US (around 5.5 million children) have food allergies, resulting in about 30,000 emergency room visits annually. The drug—meant to be injected on a regular basis, not taken after a reaction begins—has already been approved for use in those older than 1 year old by health officials. 

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