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International Co-operation in Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology Research

Background

Food-related diseases and allergies are on the increase in developed countries, causing symptoms that range from minor inconvenience to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. We need to know more about the underlying risk factors associated with food allergies and their epidemiology so as to turn the tide on the spread of sensitivity and give sufferers hope of overcoming their symptoms. Contributory causes could include genetic predisposition, lifestyle and environmental factors, or a combination of all these factors.

Project profile

EuroPrevall is investigating, for the first time, whether patterns of food consumption, environmental factors, including pollen, and infections are linked to the prevalence and distribution of food allergies across the EU and candidate countries. It is assessing lifestyle issues, such as changing eating habits and smoking, to see how food allergies could be managed and reduced in the future. It will also study possible genetic predispositions to food allergies, and compile a European database of key risk factors.

International aspects

While the project is predominantly based on European data and situations, its findings on allergens and its methods could be adapted to any area where food allergies are on the increase.

Socio-economic significance

EuroPrevall will have the following long-term socio-economic impact:

  • Development of new diagnostic tools to replace in vitro skin tests
  • Identification of novel predictive markers, both genetic and biochemical, for food allergies to permit early preventative measures, during pregnancy for example
  • Improving diagnosis through serological methods
  • Establishing thresholds, and the effect of the food matrix and processing route for reducing allergic response

Scientific significance

The project will contribute to the following scientific areas:

  • Definition of a range of feeds of vegetable origin, for farmed salmon, sea bass and bream in particular, to meet the needs of each species and its nutritional content as human food
  • The development of powerful DNA chips to monitor the growth, health and welfare of farmed fish
  • Development of feeding strategies to tailor the farmed product to meet specific human health requirements
  • Innovative toxicity tests to assess whether novel feeds can control key toxicants in farmed fish
  • Assessment of the health benefits of fish produced with new feeds on pregnant women and infants

Project outcomes

  • Establishment of the patterns and prevalence of food allergies in Europe through surveys of infants, children and adults
  • Defining the pattern of response across Europe to the main classes of allergens, which include eggs, dairy products, nuts, cereals and fish
  • A platform of authentic and highly characterised food allergens with the reactions they elicit and their distribution in sub-populations
  • Novel diagnostic and predictive tools and methods
  • Information dissemination, and training and mobility of researchers

Basic project information

  • Acronym: EuroPrevall
  • Full project title: The prevalence, cost and basis of food allergies across Europe
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Starting year: 2005
  • EU funding: 14.35 million
  • FP6 instrument used: Integrated Project
  • Project coordinator:
    Clare Mills
    Institute of Food Research
    United Kingdom
    clare.mills@bbscr.ac.uk
  • Third country partner(s) involved:
    Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (Ghana)
    Allergy Asthma Associates (India)
    Siberian State Medical University (Russia)
    Chinese University of Hong Kong (China)
  • Associated third countries partners:
    HortResearch and associates (New Zealand)
    Food Science Australia (Australia)
  • Project website: www.europrevall.org
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