If you’re allergic to tree nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds and others), the best way to prevent a reaction is to avoid eating them. But now researchers are exploring a way to head off the reactions to nuts by changing the shape of their proteins. This could make the nuts allergy-proof – the modified protein wouldn’t be recognized by immunoglobulin E (IgE), antibodies that initiate reactions by latching on to nut (and peanut) proteins. The research was presented on August 11, 2014 at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society by investigators from the Agricultural Research Service branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Clinical trials to test immunotherapy are underway, but we’re approaching it from an agricultural perspective rather than medical. Can we change the food, instead of treating the person, so we can eliminate or reduce severe reactions?” said researcher Chris Mattison, Ph.D. As things now stand, allergic responses to nuts can range from mild itching in the mouth or skin to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
“Making Cashews Safer for Those with Allergies”, American Chemical Society news release, http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/620620/?sc=mwhn, accessed August 22, 2014