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MEDALL investigating allergy epidemic

Are you allergic to some foods? Do you break out in rashes when you least expect it? Does dust send you into a breathing frenzy? You're not alone. The European Federation of Allergy and Airway Diseases Patients Association (EFA) says more than 80 million people in Europe suffe...

Are you allergic to some foods? Do you break out in rashes when you least expect it? Does dust send you into a breathing frenzy? You're not alone. The European Federation of Allergy and Airway Diseases Patients Association (EFA) says more than 80 million people in Europe suffer from some form of allergic disease. But what is especially worrisome is that this number is growing. EU-funded researchers are on a quest to determine why allergies have intensified over the years to become the 21st century's global epidemic. The new MEDALL ('Mechanisms of the development of allergy') project, backed by the Health Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 11.9 million, will address the underlying causes of the allergy epidemic while giving our well-being, and European competitiveness and innovation, a huge boost. Prevention and better control of allergies is on the MEDALL agenda. Headed by the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM) in France and Spain's Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), the MEDALL project brings together 23 partners from academia and industry in 12 EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Finland, Sweden and the UK) plus Norway, Switzerland and the US. As part of their project, the consortium will elucidate the reasons behind the growing number of allergy cases (e.g. allergic rhinitis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, and food allergy in children). The experts will determine whether and how environmental factors influence the development of allergies, and in turn the worldwide allergy epidemic. A wide network of birth cohorts comprising more than 42,000 children born in Europe between 1992 and 2007 is being used by the MEDALL partners to support their efforts. The team will study these youngsters using a number approaches, ranging from epidemiology to systems biology. MEDALL is an output of the GA2LEN ('Global allergy and asthma European network') project, which worked to curb the burden of allergy and asthma across Europe. GA2LEN, which ended last October, received EUR 14 million in support under the 'Food quality and safety' Thematic area of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). 'I hope that MEDALL outcomes will hold a significant benefit for society and human interaction and environmental implications,' explains Jean Bousquet from INSERM and Montpellier University, who is leading the MEDALL project. 'The ultimate goal of MEDALL is to increase our knowledge and understanding of the causes of asthma and allergic disease. The results of the programme will help to improve the quality of life of people with allergy across Europe, through early diagnosis, targeting primary and secondary prevention strategies and developing novel cost-effective treatments for allergic disorders.' Commenting on the project, CREAL's Josep M. Anto says: 'MEDALL combines the best research teams across Europe, who will work together to combine the data obtained in ongoing birth cohorts with systems biology in order to find innovative approaches.' EFA board member Per-Åke Wecksell says: 'EFA is delighted to be a partner in the MEDALL project. It is an important initiative that will help bring about some of the positive changes that EFA campaigns for; an increase in knowledge about allergies, improvement and mainstreaming of allergy management practices, and the development of prevention and understanding of allergy in Europe.' The project's kick-off meeting was held in Barcelona, Spain on 24-26 January.For more information, please visit: European Federation of Allergy and Airway Diseases Patients Association (EFA):http://www.efanet.org/index.phpInstitut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM):http://english.inserm.fr/MEDALL project factsheet on CORDIS, click:http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP7_PROJ_EN&ACTION=D&DOC=1&CAT=PROJ&QUERY=012dbc4f564d:b900:404cfc53&RCN=96850 (here)GA2LEN:http://www.Ga2len.netHealth research under FP7:http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/health/

Countries

Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United States

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