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What is the Focus of Allergy Research?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

Allergy research is the study of the physiological reaction, identification and testing of potential solutions to resolve this issue. An allergy occurs when the body develops a heightened sensitivity to a harmless substance. A full immune system response is launched, causing all the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

There are three different types of allergy research underway: symptom control, physiological and preventative. This type of research can be conducted in a pharmaceutical research facility, university laboratory or an independent research company. Funding for this type of work is typically provided by government research grants, international company research funding or private sources.


Symptom control research is focused on creating products that control the production of histamine in the body, which is the generally accepted cause of allergic symptoms and reactions. Each pharmaceutical company has its own patented chemical molecules designed to manage the allergic reaction. The most effective products mimic the body's own systems. The current trend in allergy research is to minimizing the side effects of large doses of these molecules on patients.

Increasing attention is being paid to the long-term use of these products, their lack of effectiveness over time, and the impact on the sleep cycle. Continual use of over the counter allergy medicine affects the body’s ability to control internal temperature through the production of sweat and the ability to fall asleep. Additional products are being created with long-term use in mind that reduce or eliminate these side effects.

Physiology is the study of the body's internal systems. This type of research focuses on different allergic reactions and how to design effective, accurate tests for allergies. The latest trend in this type of allergy research is to determine how to identify who is most susceptible to developing allergies and what triggers that change. This type of research typically has a five to seven year time span, and the results are published in a scientific journal.

Preventative allergy research is based on the work done by physiology studies. This type of research has created allergy shots that function in a similar method to a vaccine. A small amount of the allergy is introduced into the body in a controlled way. The plan is to control the physical reaction to the substance so that it does not trigger an immune system response.

There has been an explosion of development in this area, as the success and accuracy of these vaccines has increased. Additional research is underway to determine the most effective age to administer the shots and the impact on children. Specific patient profiles have been developed to identify people who are at risk for an adverse reaction.

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