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Study Finds Peanut Consumption in Infancy Prevents Peanut Allergy

Introducing peanut products into the diets of infants at high risk of developing peanut allergy was safe and led to an 81 percent reduction in the subsequent development of the allergy, an NIH-funded clinical trial has found. The study was supported primarily by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and was conducted by the NIAID-funded Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), a clinical research consortium. The results appeared in the February 26, 2015 New England Journal of Medicine and were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Researchers led by Gideon Lack, M.D., of King's College London, designed a study called Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP), based on observations that Israeli children have lower rates of peanut allergy compared to Jewish children of similar ancestry residing in the United Kingdom. Unlike children in the UK, Israeli children begin consuming peanut-containing foods in infancy. The study tested the hypothesis that the very low rate of peanut allergy in Israeli children was a result of regular consumption of large amounts of peanuts beginning in infancy.

"Food allergies are a growing concern, not just in the United States but around the world," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "For a study to show a benefit of this magnitude in the prevention of peanut allergy is without precedent. The results are transforming the way we approach prevention of other allergic diseases and have the potential to change clinical practice and pediatric dietary guidelines."

Full press release is at:

Study Reveals Many Americans at Risk for Alcohol-Medication Interactions

Nearly 42 percent of U.S. adults who drink also report using medications known to interact with alcohol, based on a study from the National Institutes of Health released today. Among those over 65 years of age who drink alcohol, nearly 78 percent report using alcohol-interactive medications. (Such medications are widely used, prescribed for common conditions such as depression, diabetes and high blood pressure.) Based on recent estimates, about 71 percent of U.S. adults drink alcohol.

The research is among the first to estimate the proportion of adult drinkers in the United States who may be mixing alcohol-interactive medications with alcohol. The resulting health effects can range from mild (nausea, headaches, loss of coordination) to severe (internal bleeding, heart problems, difficulty breathing).

"Combining alcohol with medications often carries the potential for serious health risks," said Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). "Based on this study, many individuals may be mixing alcohol with interactive medications and they should be aware of the possible harms.

It is recommended that people taking medications talk to their doctor or pharmacist about whether they should avoid alcohol.

The study, led by Dr. Rosalind Breslow, Ph.D., appeared in the February 2015 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

For more on alcohol-medication interactions, see this NIAAA fact sheet:

White House "Precision Medicine Initiative" Details Released

Earlier this year, President Obama announced a $215 million Precision Medicine Initiative. Instead of "one size fits all" health care, this project aims to accelerate progress toward a new medical model, with medical decisions, practices, and products tailored to the individual patient. To tell how it might all unfold, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus, M.D., wrote a piece in the February 26, 2015 New England Journal of Medicine.

Actually, precision medicine is not new, they explained Blood typing, for example, has been used for more than 100 years to divide patients into various types.

The new initiative has two main parts: a near-term one that will focus on cancer and a longer-term one that will concentrate on other types of disease. "Both components are now within our reach because of advances in basic research, including molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics," Collins and Varmus wrote.

While initial pilot studies will take advantage of existing studies and trials, the ultimate goal is to assemble a group of at least 1 million U.S. participants who will volunteer to share genomic information, biological specimens, and clinical and lifestyle data to inform research and their own health decisions.

Full article is at:

Spring 2015 Issue: Volume 10 Number 1 Page 28