February 2007 Archives

peanutsSAN DIEGO -- An oral immunotherapy regimen can help take the sting out of severe peanut allergies, reported investigators here.

Five of seven children with severe peanut allergy were able, after two years of immunotherapy, to tolerate a dose of 7.8 grams of peanut flour, equivalent to eating more than 13 peanuts, reported Scott David Nash, M.D., of Duke in Durham, N.C., and colleagues.

Yet while oral immunotherapy can desensitize patients to peanuts, children who undergo it may not be in the clear, cautioned the authors in a featured poster session at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology here.

Cows' milk can protect against asthma


asthmaChildren who start drinking fresh milk from the farm early on are less likely to develop allergies when they are of school age, according to Swiss scientists.

But why more people are suffering allergies remains unclear, say researchers at Basel University, who have begun a study involving more than 14,000 children.

Cows' milk as food for infants has a bad reputation. From a nutritional perspective it does not fulfil the dietary requirements of babies, and children who are fed only cows' milk for too long often suffer an iron deficiency.

childhood asthma A fresh study by the Environmental Health section of the National Public Health Institute shows a strong link between asthma in children and dampness in the building structures of the home.

According to an article in the upcoming edition of the European Respiratory Journal, at least one in ten, and possibly as many as one in five cases of asthma among children are linked with water damage in the building.

The onset of asthma is the result of the cumulative effect of many factors. Nevertheless, in the 1990s there was a rapid increase in cases of asthma in Finland, as well as an increase in damage caused by dampness in buildings.

Dynavax drops allergy drug trials

dynavaxBERKELEY — Biopharmaceutical company Dynavax Technologies Corp. announced Friday it is discontinuing two clinical trials for its ragweed allergy treatment.

The Berkeley-based company said it will explore developing a different path for trials for the treatment, called Tolamba.

It announced Jan. 8 that trials for the drug were inconclusive, sending shares of the company's stock that day down 30 percent to just below $6.

"It's not the death knell for the allergy program," said Shari Annes, a Dynavax spokeswoman. "It was an inconclusive trial, not a failed drug."

astelinThe prescription antihistamine Astelin(R) (azelastine HCl) Nasal Spray(R) relieved the major symptoms of pollen allergy, including sneezing, runny nose and congestion, within 15 minutes of application compared to placebo and maintained efficacy at all time points for 8 hours in a randomized, single dose, double-blind, placebo- controlled study, MedPointe Pharmaceuticals announced today.

In addition, a group of patients treated with intranasal Nasonex(R) (mometasone furoate monohydrate) did not show symptom improvement compared to placebo during the eight hour study period. Data from the 450-patient study, conducted in a controlled environmental exposure unit (EEU), were presented at the 2007 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

FDA Warns On Genentech's Asthma Drug Xolair

xolairWASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Wednesday a Genentech Inc. (DNA) asthma drug can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

The agency said it's asked the company to put a black-box warning label on the drug, which is sold under the brand name Xolair. A black box warning is the FDA's strongest warning.

Xolair was approved in 2003 to treat adults and adolescents with moderate to severe persistent asthma related to allergies whose symptoms are inadequately controlled with inhaled steroids.

A company spokesman couldn't immediately be reached.

Genentech shares recently rose 8 cents to $87.02.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Race May Play a Role in Children’s Asthma Care


asthmaNewswise — Children in this country suffer from asthma more than any other chronic illness, and new research finds African-American children with the condition have a greater risk than others of experiencing severe symptoms that escalate into an emergency.

Previous research has shown that in comparison with white and Hispanic children, African-Americans have a higher rate of asthma, are hospitalized more and face more disability due to the condition. Because of this, “we suspected they might also exhibit relatively more severe asthma symptoms at the time of hospitalization,” said Yu Bai, a doctoral candidate at Pennsylvania State University.

Bai and his colleagues analyzed the records of 7,726 white, African-American and Hispanic children up to age 19 who were admitted to Pennsylvania hospitals in 2001 for asthma symptoms. The researchers then examined how the physician reported the severity of the children’s condition and ranked them either as “emergency” or “non-emergency” admissions.

Cracked skin could be path to asthma

eczemaResearchers have long noted that many asthma sufferers also have atopic dermatitis -- often called eczema -- a chronic disease of the skin that can leave it red, raw, scaly, tender, oozy and excruciatingly itchy. But scientists are looking at whether such ravaging of the skin creates the conditions that can trigger asthma.

British scientists reported last spring in the journal Nature Genetics that people who suffer from both eczema and asthma carry the same gene mutation and concluded that in some cases eczema may actually lead to asthma.

asthmaDUBLIN, Ireland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Research and Markets has announced the addition of Asthma Evaluation and Management 2007 Update to their offering.

Patients with asthma require a continuum of preventive, acute, psychological, rehabilitative, education, and self-management interventions to meet their complex health and psychosocial needs. Deaths usually occur in asthma as a result of the lack of appreciation for the severity of an exacerbation, and inadequate prompt home emergency treatment.

Care by a pulmonary or allergy specialist for patients with mild to moderate as well as severe asthma has demonstrated improved outcomes. Improved outcomes related to specialist management (as measured by reduced hospitalizations and ER visits) appear due to the greater use of prophylactic medication and other strategies such as case management.

montelukastFebruary 16, 2007 — In children with intermittent asthma, a short course of montelukast resulted in reduction in acute healthcare resources, asthma symptoms, and days lost from school and from work for parents, according to the results of a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial reported in the February 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine.

"In children, intermittent asthma is the most common pattern and is responsible for the majority of exacerbations," write Colin F. Robertson, MD, of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues. "Montelukast has a rapid onset of action and may be effective if used intermittently."

symbicortAstraZeneca today announced that 37 countries to date have received approval of Symbicort® Maintenance And Reliever Therapy (Symbicort SMART®), and that a period of world wide launches will now be initiated. This new, smarter approach to asthma is the first to provide patients with both asthma maintenance and reliever therapy together in just one inhaler.

With the Symbicort SMART management approach, patients receive inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and long acting bronchodilator (LABA) with every inhalation. Thus, with Symbicort SMART it is possible to treat the underlying inflammation with every inhalation, even when used for rapid symptom relief, making it a more effective way to manage asthma. A separate SABA (short acting bronchodilator) inhaler is therefore no longer needed. Symbicort SMART has been proven to reduce exacerbations by 39% compared with salmeterol / fluticasone combination and a separate reliever medication.1

FDA: New Limits to Ketek Use

ketekFebruary 13, 2007 — Multiple label revisions for telithromycin (Ketek tablets, made by Sanofi-Aventis) include removal of its approval for 2 of its 3 indications, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The risks of telithromycin for the treatment of acute bacterial sinusitis and acute bacterial exacerbations of chronic bronchitis have been found to outweigh the benefits, the FDA said in an alert sent yesterday from MedWatch, the FDA's safety information and adverse event reporting program.

Other label changes include a boxed warning stating that use of telithromycin is contraindicated in patients with myasthenia gravis, and a strengthened warning section regarding the risk for adverse events such as visual disturbances and loss of consciousness; the risk for hepatotoxicity was previously emphasized in June 2006.

Allergy hope over wine preserver

red wine A new technique for preserving grapes for mass-market wine may prevent the drink causing allergies, a study says.

Spanish researchers found using ozone to keep grapes fresh for wine was 90% as effective as sulphur dioxide, which is currently used by producers.

Sulphur dioxide is often linked to allergies such as asthma and migraines, the journal Chemical and Industry said.

But experts said there were other properties in wine that could trigger allergic reactions.

Link found between asthma and obesity


asthmaAsthmatics are more likely than other Australians to be obese and suffer other long-term health conditions, a new study says.

Australian researchers have found more than one in five asthma patients are obese, and fewer than half had a normal body mass index.

Only about 38 per cent of middle aged asthmatics had a normal body mass index.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report concluded people with asthma aged 18 to 64 were more likely to be obese than those who had never had asthma, but could not identify the reason.

Cracked Skin Could Be Path to Asthma


asthmaResearchers have long noted that many asthma sufferers also have atopic dermatitis — often called eczema — a chronic disease of the skin that can leave it red, raw, scaly, tender, oozy and excruciatingly itchy. But scientists are looking at whether such ravaging of the skin creates the conditions that can trigger asthma.

Last spring in the journal Nature Genetics, British scientists reported that people who suffer from both eczema and asthma carry the same gene mutation and concluded that eczema may actually lead to asthma in some cases.

Until now, it had largely been assumed that dander, dust mites, pollen and other allergens that can cause asthma enter the body through the respiratory system. But the researchers said they now believe that they can also enter the body through tiny breaks in the skin’s surface — something that occurs in patients with eczema.

pregnancyBackground: Maternal diet during pregnancy might be one of the factors that influences fetal immune responses associated with childhood allergy.

Objective: We analyzed the association between maternal diet during the last 4 wk of pregnancy and allergic sensitization and eczema in the offspring at 2 y of age.

Design: Data from 2641 children at 2 y of age were analyzed within a German prospective birth cohort study (LISA). Maternal diet during the last 4 wk of pregnancy was assessed with a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire, which was administered shortly after childbirth.

Asthma and Air Quality


air qualityPurpose of review: There is evidence for an association between asthma and air pollutants, including ozone, NO2 and particulate matter. Since these pollutants are ubiquitous in the urban atmosphere and typically correlated with each other it has been difficult to ascertain the specific sources of air pollution responsible for the observed effects.

Similarly, uncertainty in determining a causal agent, or multiple agents, has complicated efforts to identify the mechanisms involved in pollution-mediated asthma events and whether air pollution may cause asthma as well as exacerbate preexisting cases.

Med students auctioned off for asthma prevention

asthmaMedical students stripped off their white lab coats and strutted their stuff down the runway in Sayles Hall Friday night in an effort to raise money for asthmatic children.

The charity auction, dubbed "Date a Doctor," raised $3,641 for the Community Asthma Programs at Hasbro Children's Hospital, including a top bid of $469 for a date with Stacey Weinstein '05 MD'09, who co-hosted and organized the event.

"It's all for the kids," participant Cliff Voigt '05 MD'09 said to the crowd after demonstrating his dancing talent.

Call to ban hair dye ingredient over allergies

dyed hairAllergic reactions to hair dyes are reaching new heights as more and more young people become preoccupied with altering their outward appearance, according to a recent study by the British Medical Journal this week.

The study highlights the harm that is being caused by the main agent in over two-thirds of all hair dyes on the market at present, para-phenylenediamine (PPD).

It has long been questioned whether the benefits of PPD outweigh the drawbacks, with the agent already banned in Germany, France and Sweden due to the problems it was causing.

It’s hard to diagnose children with asthma

asthmaAsthma is the No. 1 reason that children miss school in the United States and the most common chronic illness that sends kids to the emergency room.

Some children have only mild, occasional asthma flare-ups, or only show signs after exercising, while others have such severe asthma that it affects their activity level and causes changes in the way their lungs function.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes airways to tighten. Asthma flare-ups often appear to happen without warning, even after weeks or months without symptoms. All children who suffer from asthma have airways that are overly sensitive to triggers, such as exercise, allergies, viral infections and smoke. When children with asthma are exposed to triggers such as these, their airway linings become inflamed, swollen and filled with mucus, and the muscles that line the airways tighten and shrink, which makes it difficult for air to move through them. A child experiencing an asthma flare-up may cough, wheeze and sweat, and may feel tightness in the chest, increased heart rate and shortness of breath.