New treatments may offer the prospect of eating without fear for the 15 million people in the U.S. with food allergies. According to the cover story in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society, several teams of scientists are close to developing cures for food allergies.

The cost of food allergies

Lauren K. Wolf, associate editor of the magazine, noted that food allergies cause more than 200,000 emergency room visits every year, accounting for more than $500 million in healthcare costs. However, help may be on the way in the form of new treatments for food allergies.

Potential treatments

According to the magazine, oral immunotherapy has already shown promise for enabling people diagnosed with an allergy to milk, peanuts, or eggs to safely eat small amounts of those ingredients without suffering a reaction. Another potential treatment is Xolair, a medication in development for Genentech and Novartis. The drug has reached the clinical trial stage for the treatment of various allergies. Several other promising treatments are currently in the development phase.

Detecting food allergens

The issue also covered tests used to detect food allergens in restaurants and during food manufacturing. There are several tests available to the food industry to check for the presence of peanut, egg, soy, and other allergens, which can prevent products from reaching consumers while inadvertently containing allergens.

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