Cross-reactivity between peanuts and other legumes can lead to serious allergic reactions

Many children and adults in the West suffer from food allergies, and the prevalence of cross-reactions to other types of food is also increasing. Dr Nina E Vinje has created two mouse models for allergies to fenugreek and lupin, both legumes. Creating mouse models reduces the need for testing on animals. The models have been used to test whether other legumes such as soya and peanut trigger allergic reactions in those allergic to lupin and fenugreek.

The research was carried out in the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, and in Norway, both lupin and fenugreek are relatively new food ingredients. Lupin is added to wheat flour to improve baking, and fenugreek, which is often listed simply as ‘spices’ on the ingredients list, is added to many Asian ready meals. Both of these ingredients can lead to serious cross-reactions in patients with peanut allergy.

There is no treatment for food allergies, only management by avoiding all allergenic food substances.  The established mice models can be used to try out new vaccines – which must be tested on animals before they are used on humans. New foods released onto the market will also be tested using these models to see if they will cause allergies.

Source: Norwegian School of Veterinary Science

First published in May 2012

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