FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 21, 2011
The 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) brings together leading allergists and immunologists from around the world.
Scientists supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, are among those presenting their latest research findings at the AAAAI Annual Meeting. For more than 60 years, NIAID has supported allergy and immunology research at U.S. and international institutions and conducted studies within its own laboratories to improve the health of millions of people.
March 18-22, 2011
Moscone Center, San Francisco
The following are summaries of scheduled presentations describing NIAID-funded research.
Respiratory Viruses and Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disorder of the airways affecting approximately 18 million adults and 7 million children under the age of 18 in the United States. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. People with asthma can experience increased attacks in the autumn, concurrent with an increase in respiratory virus infections. This series of presentations will describe data linking asthma attacks with infections, identify possible ways that respiratory viruses may cause asthma attacks, and discuss potential therapeutic strategies to counteract the effects of viral respiratory infections on asthma.
Mast Cell Disorders
Mast cells are types of immune cells found in the skin, lymph nodes, and linings of the lungs, stomach and intestines. These cells release chemicals and signaling molecules to attract other immune cells needed for host defense. Mast cells also are thought to play a role in wound healing and the growth of blood vessels. Mastocytosis is a disorder caused by the accumulation of too many mast cells in the skin (cutaneous) or in tissues of the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, bone marrow and intestines (systemic). Symptoms of mastocytosis can include nausea, faintness and fatigue as well as episodes of anaphylaxis, a severe, whole-body allergic-like reaction. This series of presentations will describe the role of mast cells in immune regulation, the genetic basis of mastocytosis and the diagnosis and treatment of mast cell disorders. An additional talk on mast cell disorders will be presented by Melody Carter, M.D., staff clinician, Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, NIAID’s Division of Intramural Research.
The Food Allergy Guidelines: From Controversy to Consensus
The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-sponsored Expert Panel were developed by 25 experts to help healthcare professionals—including family practice physicians, medical specialists and nurses—better care for their patients with food allergy. The guidelines reflect the most up-to-date scientific and clinical information about food allergy and the consensus opinion of the expert panel. In this session, panel members will discuss the process used to develop the guidelines, how the guidelines may be used in clinical practice and the gaps in knowledge about food allergy identified by the guidelines. Following the symposium, there will be a special Q & A session at the NIAID exhibit booth with one of the key contributors to the guidelines, Matthew Fenton, Ph.D., chief of the Asthma, Allergy and Inflammation Branch in NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation.
Standardizing Asthma Clinical Trial Outcome Measures
NIH supports clinical research to understand what causes asthma and to develop new ways to treat and prevent the disease. These studies have provided valuable insights into the diagnosis and management of asthma, including severe asthma in children and adolescents. NIAID and the NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) organized the Asthma Outcomes Workshop in March 2010. Participants included the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality, the Merck Childhood Asthma Network and other NIH Institutes and Centers. The goal of the workshop was to develop standardized definitions and data-collection methods to enable better comparison of results from asthma clinical studies initiated by NIH. This symposium will provide an overview of the soon-to-be-published workshop report.
Update on DOCK8 Deficiency, a New PIDD
In 2009, NIH investigators found a genetic mutation in the DOCK8 gene that causes a previously unidentified immune system disease. DOCK8 deficiency is now recognized as a unique primary immune deficiency disease (PIDD), which includes a subset of patients who have hyper-immunoglobulin E (IgE) syndrome. Symptoms include persistent skin infections, acute allergies and cancer. The normal function of DOCK8 is unknown. People with DOCK8 mutations have lower-than-normal levels of anti-virus immune cells and antibody-producing cells. They also have increased numbers of white blood cells associated with allergy, suggesting that DOCK8 helps protect against viruses and the development of allergies and cancers. Identification of the molecular basis of this disease has aided the diagnosis and treatment of patients. An update on the understanding of DOCK8 deficiency and the successful treatment of several patients with the illness will be covered in this session.
T cells play key roles in defending the body against harmful bacteria and viruses. These cells also have been implicated in driving the development of asthma, allergy and autoimmune diseases. T cells can specialize into subpopulations that produce different cell-signaling molecules, called cytokines, that influence an immune response to a microbe or, in the case of autoimmune diseases, the body’s own cells. New insights into the molecular basis of such specialization have been obtained by genome-wide analysis of gene accessibility in each of the distinct T cell types. This data suggest—and other recent studies establish—that T-cell specialization may be flexible. With the right mix of signaling molecules, T cells that produce one cytokine may be influenced to produce a different cytokine. Possible explanations for how specialized T-cell subsets can change will be discussed in this session.
Information for members of the media about the AAAAI Annual Meeting may be found on the media kit page. More information on the many sessions and presenters may be found on the meeting website.
For more information on NIAID research or to schedule an interview with one of the presenters listed above, please contact Julie Wu in the NIAID Office of Communications at (301) 402-1663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of
infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News
releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at www.niaid.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research,
and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
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Last Updated March 21, 2011
Last Reviewed March 18, 2011