Team:Linkoping Sweden/Project/Challenge


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The Challenge

As mentioned previously, studies indicate that nut allergies are becoming more prevalent in our society. In Sweden, 1 in 20 children have some kind of nut allergy and similar numbers have been reported from both the United States and the UK. A peanut allergy is usually life-long and only a few percent of children outgrow it 1,2.

A peanut allergy is an extremely serious form of allergy since it causes severe reactions. It is common that people with peanut allergies suffer from anaphylactic shock when they come in contact with peanuts. This causes an extremely dangerous condition where the affected person requires urgent treatment. Each year is estimated that about 30 000 food-induced anaphylactic events take place in the United States and 200 of these are fatal. Out of these, peanuts or tree nuts cause 80% of the reactions 3.

Unfortunately, as of today, there is no vaccine or medication that one can take before consuming food that will reduce the effects of a potential allergic reaction to peanuts. There are medications for the allergic individual to take if they accidentally consume an allergen they are allergic to in the form of adrenaline shots like Anapen©. Adrenaline decrease swelling, aids breathing and prevents a decrease in blood pressure 4. This solution only helps after the allergic reaction has set in and does not prevent the reaction from occurring in the first place.

The goal of our project is to create a product that can help an allergic individual to avoid a potentially dangerous allergic reaction before it actually breaks out. As seen below, in Fig. 1, the current quality of daily life for peanut allergic individuals varies across the globe. The overall trend, however, is bleak.

Figure 1. We asked our fellow iGEMers how they experienced the situation for allergic people in their country. This map shows the answers that we received. More results from this international survey can be found under policy & practices.

1. [Updated 2013; cited 2014 October 16]. Available from:
2. Ewan P. A clinical study of peanut and nut allergy: new features and associations. BMJ 1996; 312: 1074–8
3. Bock, SA, Munoz-Furlong, A, Sampson, HA. Fatalities due to anaphylactic reactions to foods. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 2001; 107:191-193
4. S. F. Kemp., R. F. Lockey., F. E. R. Simons. Epinephrine: the drug of choice for anaphylaxis. A statement of the World Allergy Organization. Allergy; 63: 1061-70

Linköping University
581 83 Linköping, Sweden
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