Deadly allergies to be mapped by new elite research centre

Some people are so sensitive to certain types of food, drug or insect bite that they risk dying from even very limited exposure. This most severe form of allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, will be the focus of a new elite research centre, Odense Research Centre for Anaphylaxis (ORCA), at Odense University Hospital (OUH).

Physicians today know very little about the reasons why some patients react with anaphylactic shock while other anaphylaxis patients react to the same stimulus with milder symptoms such as itchy mouth or nettle rash.

Furthermore, it is unclear why some patients are extremely sensitive and react severely to a mere milligram of e.g. hazel nut, while others only react to the intake of several grams of nuts.

– However, we believe that we can be the first in the world to solve this conundrum, said Prof. Carsten Bindslev-Jensen, Head of Odense Research Centre for Anaphylaxis and Lead Consultant at Odense University Hospital.

It is also unclear how many people are suffering from the disease. Carsten Bindslev-Jensen indicates that two to three percent of the population is at risk of developing this potentially deadly allergic reaction.

The new elite research centre is therefore to investigate e.g. the frequency of anaphylactic reactions and what triggers them. Research will be carried out into how to diagnose and prevent the disease before patients are brought unconscious to the hospital with their first anaphylactic shock, and one of the goals is to develop a food allergy vaccine. A total of 14 new research projects will be launched under the new elite research centre for anaphylaxis.

Follow-up is needed

The only effective treatment for anaphylaxis is a quick injection of adrenaline. However, preliminary figures suggest that far too few patients are being offered this life-saving treatment at accident and emergency departments across Denmark. It is therefore vital that patients carry adrenaline with them and are taught to self-administer the drug. Today, many people are discharged from the emergency department without having received proper help and guidance after an anaphylactic reaction.

– This is not good enough. The patients must be examined and they should be taught emergency self-treatment. If you don’t know what your body can tolerate and if you don’t learn how to give yourself an adrenaline shot, the disease will lead to anxiety and social isolation and may thus be disabling for the individual patient, said Carsten Bindslev-Jensen.


Prof. Carsten Bindslev-Jensen, Lead Consultant, Head of Centre for ORCA, +45 2025 4077.