Newswise — UVA Health and UVA Children’s are increasing access to the latest food allergy clinical trials and expanding their cutting-edge food-allergy research, following their selection to a national food-allergy clinical network.

FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), a leading food-allergy research, advocacy and education organization, has named UVA as a Discovery Center of Distinction as part of the FARE Clinical Network. This is the highest level of distinction from FARE, and UVA is the only Virginia hospital named to the network. The selection follows a rigorous evaluation of both UVA’s food-allergy patient care and research capabilities. 

Thirty-two million Americans have food allergies. The clinical network’s goal, according to FARE, is to “bring top institutions together to ensure that patients with food allergies have access to state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment, short-term and long-term care, and research that addresses factors from discovery to application along the entire clinical and translational spectrum.”

Joining the network will give people across the state more opportunities to participate in food allergy research, said Jonathan Hemler, MD, a pediatric allergist at UVA specializing in food allergies.

“As a part of the new FARE network, we will be asked to be a site for multi-center clinical and translational research, and give patients in Central Virginia, and the state as a whole, access to the newest and most advanced therapies undergoing clinical trials,” he said.

This designation also recognizes UVA’s top-notch care for patients with food allergies and food allergic diseases, Hemler said.

Connecting with the research network will help UVA build on its pioneering food-allergy research, which includes several projects examining a red meat allergy caused by tick bites that was first discovered by UVA’s Thomas Platts-Mills, MD. UVA also has a clinical trial examining a potential medication for eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic inflammation of the esophagus. In addition, UVA researchers are working with colleagues at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to use antibodies from patients with food allergies to create better diagnostic tools as well as potentially block food allergic reactions from occurring.

“The collaborations with other centers are the most exciting aspect of being a part of the clinical network, as it will give patients in Virginia access to cutting-edge research opportunities in this field,” Hemler said.

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