Once considered to be a rare disease, the prevalence and impact of allergy continues to rise and is now thought to affect almost 1 Billion people worldwide. Such widespread incidence of allergic disease has a huge impact on public health systems, resulting in a need to prioritise research efforts in order to achieve sustainable results towards prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) have published a position statement, in collaboration with the European Federation of Allergy and Airway Diseases Patients’ Associations, to highlight what they believe to be the current and future research needs in allergy, and call to stakeholders, including patient organizations and policy makers, for their assistance.
The position statement, published in Clinical and Translational Allergy, starts by introducing the importance of effective research into allergic disease by highlighting just a few ways in which quality of life is affected in sufferers, such as impaired sleep, or problems at school or work, as reported in previous studies. It continues by summarising the unmet needs and gaps in understanding for various aspects of allergic disease, including epidemiology and diagnosis, as well as in various conditions such as asthma, skin allergy, food allergy and drug hypersensitivity.
One specific aspect was recently covered in more detail in another position statement from the society: “EAACI: A European Declaration on Immunotherapy. Designing the future of allergen specific immunotherapy”. As allergen-specific immunotherapy addresses the cause of allergy, it is currently the only therapy with the potential to affect the natural course of the disease.
Given the importance of global access to research on allergy and collaboration between physicians, researchers, academics, patient organization groups and policy makers, it is perhaps no coincidence that EAACI chose to start a new open access journal in 2011, Clinical and Translational Allergy, to sit alongside existing titles Allergy and Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.
The open access model promotes the sharing of information across disciplines, allows decision makers to access the latest research and information and facilitates collaborations between research groups. For example, the cross-journal collection of articles “Advances in food allergy” brings together articles on food allergy published in journals across BioMed Central’s growing allergy portfolio to help facilitate the sharing of knowledge on this topic.
With increased globalization and urbanization, the incidence of allergic disease is predicted to continue to grow. Strategies to allow focused and targeted research into the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of allergic diseases are paramount to improving the future of allergy.