| Nation's leading food allergy organization aims to advance scientific understanding and accelerate development of treatments to prevent life-threatening reactions
McLean, Va. (Nov. 25, 2013) – Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the nation’s leading organization working on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, today unveiled its comprehensive strategic plan for food allergy research. The plan, entitled “A Vision and Plan for Food Allergy Research,” sets forth FARE’s strategy for building a deep scientific understanding of the disease and accelerating the development of safe, practical therapies that would shield individuals with food allergies from life-threatening reactions. FARE is the world’s largest private source of funding for food allergy research.
In the U.S., food allergies affect 1 in 13 children– roughly two in every classroom – and a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes. Currently, there is no cure and there are no preventive treatments to protect against life-threatening reactions. Strict avoidance of problem foods, and the use of emergency medication when a reaction occurs, are the only ways to prevent and treat anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the number of children with food allergies has increased by 50 percent since the late 1990s.
“Food allergy is a growing public health issue. For millions of children and adults, the smallest amount of a problem food can mean the difference between life and death. Researchers are studying promising treatments, but it will take significant, ongoing investments to find effective therapies and make them available to the public,” said John L. Lehr, CEO of FARE. “Working with leading experts from around the world, FARE has developed a strategic plan for food allergy research that will expand the number of highly qualified centers conducting clinical research, increase the number of clinical trials underway, and facilitate the collaboration between research centers needed to expedite studies.”
In April 2013, FARE brought together more than 50 leading researchers, senior government officials, industry representatives and food allergy advocates at a Research Retreat in Washington, DC. The discussions at this retreat formed the basis for the organization’s three-pillar research strategy, outlined in “A Vision and Plan for Food Allergy Research.” These pillars are:
“Food allergy research has reached a pivotal stage,” said A. Wesley Burks, MD, chair of FARE’s Research Advisory Board and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill. “Researchers are answering crucial questions and developing new treatments that have the potential to change patients’ lives. FARE’s ambitious plan will build on this strong foundation, uniting the scientific community and providing the structure, tools and resources we need to solve the problem of food allergy.”
- Develop a strategy and infrastructure to test clinical hypotheses in humans and rapidly advance clinical research. FARE will create a national coordinating center for research, known as the FARE Research Organization (FARO), which will develop standardized clinical trial protocols; certify a national network of highly qualified food allergy centers – the FARE Clinical Research Network – to conduct these studies, collect and share data, and provide patient care; and promote the rapid recruitment of patients.
- Develop the scientific understanding, tools, and resources necessary to facilitate research that will build a pipeline of new therapies. Unlike many other diseases, the underlying causes of food allergy – and the reasons for its rapid rise over the past 25 years – are unknown. Basic science aimed at answering fundamental questions is key to developing effective treatments. In addition, it is crucial that researchers have the tools they need to succeed, including an online food allergy research portal and a patient registry and biorepository that capture critical data, including clinical histories and biospecimens (serum, DNA, and RNA samples).
- Attract outstanding investigators to the field of food allergy and develop their careers. FARE will provide seed funding, career development grants, and awards that promote exploration of new solutions, motivate young investigators, and encourage preeminent researchers from other disciplines to apply their talents to food allergy.
To begin implementing the plan, FARE will be seeking financial support from the philanthropic community and interested donors.
To read “A Vision and Plan for Food Allergy Research” and learn more about FARE’s research vision, visit www.foodallergy.org/research/strategic-plan.