Allergy Research

February 14, 1975

Report Outline
Surge of Interest in Allergic Diseases
Unfolding of Knowledge About Allergies
Directions in Treatment and Research
Asthma and Allergic Disease Centers' Major Research Programs
Special Focus

Surge of Interest in Allergic Diseases

Identity With Glamor Field of Medical Research

Except for the common cold, allergic reactions are the commonest of all human ailments. Yet until recently this class of illness received little attention in popular tracts on health subjects, and medical research in this field attracted relatively little support. Allergies lacked the drama of the more deadly diseases such as cancer and heart trouble. Nor did they pull on the heartstrings with the pathos of diseases such as polio and multiple sclerosis. Nevertheless, allergic reactions cause serious burdens for many people, affecting in various degrees of severity as many as 35 million Americans.

Medical interest in allergic reactions is rising. New methods of dealing with symptoms are giving relief to sufferers and research is gaining more impetus than in the recent past. One indication of this mounting interest is the fact that no less than 170 reports on separate research findings will be delivered at the scientific sessions of the 31st annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, a leading professional group of medical specialists, to be held Feb. 17–19 in San Diego.

One reason for the spurting interest in allergic disease is the realization that it is closely associated with the immunity mechanisms of the human body. “Clinical immunology has become almost synonymous with the specialty of allergy,” writes Dr. Alex S. Friedlaender of the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Immunology has become the newest glamor field of medical research. Spurred by the need to control immunity reactions during and after organ transplantation, research in immunology opened up new avenues for understanding the nature of any number of human ailments. Among them are allergic reactions, the full nature of which is still mystifying to the medical profession. It is now believed that hypersensitivity to certain substances, which is the essence of the allergic reaction, is directly involved in the biological process by which an organism attempts to protect itself against a hostile invader from the external environment.

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