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Hay fever relief may be in your fridge

Visit  Institute of Food Research website

16 June 2010

Hay fever sufferers will learn if the answer to their annual summer discomfort could already be available on supermarket shelves or even lurking in their fridge.

Experts at the Institute of Food Research, University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, are investigating whether yoghurt type drinks can help bring relief to hay fever summer suffering.

A team of six Norwich Research Park researchers led by Professor Claudio Nicoletti from IFR will embark on the year-long study.

Professor Nicoletti has already completed a pilot study with IFR colleagues on a small group of people with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever). In the first human study of its kind, they found that yoghurt type drinks with Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) can modify the immune system's response to grass pollen.

The research is now being widened in collaboration with Dr Andrew Wilson, an expert in allergy and respiratory medicine at the university's school of Medicine Health Policy and Practice. The researchers are inviting volunteers who are troubled by hay fever to join the study to see if the drinks have an impact on the clinical symptoms of the problem.

It is estimated that hay fever affects over 600 million people, and numbers are rising. There is no known cure.

Hay fever, which can lead to asthma, causes significant discomfort, interrupted sleep and impairs concentration at school or work. It is estimated that UK businesses will lose around £324M through lost days this summer alone.

"In this study we want to see if the immunological changes we previously discovered translate into a real reduction in the clinical symptoms of hayfever," said Professor Nicoletti. "We will also analyze the mechanisms involved."

Dr Wilson said: "The benefits of a reasonably cheap and self-administered non-drug 'treatment' are clear."

"Our study will also provide evidence to the viability for the many health claims around these products which could result in clear guidance for the general public."

The team are starting their work immediately to coincide with the peak grass pollen season.

Volunteers must be over 16 and will be asked to attend the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital seven times over a four month period. All volunteers will benefit from an allergy and respiratory 'MOT', find out what they're allergic to, have their breathing tested and have expenses of up to £250 paid.

For further information, potential volunteers are invited to call Dr Andrew Wilson on 01603 289876 (24 hour) or e-mail respiratory.research@nnuh.nhs.uk.

ENDS

About BBSRC

BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.