Kate Johnson

March 07, 2012

March 7, 2012 (Orlando, Florida) — Four of the world's largest medical organizations in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology have joined forces to improve awareness, funding, and ultimately treatment, they announced here at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) 2012 Annual Meeting.

The International Collaboration in Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (iCAALL) — made up of the AAAAI, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), the World Allergy Organization (WAO), and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) — hopes to "increase and coordinate the communication of information about allergies, asthma, and immunologic diseases on a global level," said Cezmi Akdis, MD, who is president of the EAACI.

Together, asthma and allergy are the most common chronic noncommunicable diseases. There has been a "tremendous increase" in their prevalence, yet funding for research in this area is low — "in the range of 2% to 3% of the funds currently devoted to other diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS," Dr. Akdis said.

The iCAALL initiative "targets patients, general practitioners, the specialists, and the policymakers who make the decisions to allocate these valuable resources," said Ruby Pawankar, MD, who is president of the WAO.

"Three hundred million people worldwide suffer from asthma. Just from asthma there are 250,000 deaths per year," she said. "iCAALL will serve as an important initiative to increase awareness."

To mark its launch, iCAALL published the first in a series of international consensus (ICON) statements for the field, said Dennis Ledford, MD, president of AAAAI and chair of iCAALL.

The first ICON statement, published online February 24 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, focuses on food allergy.

"We constructed these ICONS with the idea of evidence and science being applied to patient care. They are constructed in a way to make them readable for clinicians who want to deliver good care," said Dr. Ledford.

The food allergy ICON addresses the growing prevalence of food allergy worldwide, key recommendations for preventing or delaying food allergy, and the need to progress from largely avoidance-based management to active treatment, said Wesley Burks, MD, lead author of the document and president-elect of AAAAI. Dr. Burks is chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and the newly named chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

"What we hope to do is present 2 to 4 ICONS per year on issues that affect all of our patients in all of our different regions so that we can elevate the level of care for our patients," said Stanley Fineman, MD, ACAAI president and clinical associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

The next ICON, on pediatric asthma, will be presented at the EAACI meeting in Geneva in the summer, an ICON on angioedema will be presented at the ACAAI meeting in November, and an ICON on eosinophilic disorders will be presented at the WAO meeting in December, Dr. Fineman announced.

"We anticipate other initiatives and measures to educate and communicate this information and help make patients' lives different," said Dr. Ledford.

"I am confident that iCAALL will result in greater awareness about allergies, asthma, and immunological diseases all around the world, resulting in prevention, cure, and better patient care, which is only possible with increased allocation of resources for research," said Dr. Akdis.

Dr. Akdis reports receiving research support from Novartis, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the European Commission, the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network, and the Christine Kühne Center for Allergy Research and Education (for which he is the director); and consulting for Actellion, Aventis, Stallergenes, and Allergopharma. Dr. Burks reports consulting for Dannon Company Probiotics, Exploramed Development, Intelliject, McNeil Nutritionals, Merck & Co, Novartis, Nutricia, Pfizer, Portola Pharmaceuticals, and Schering-Plough; receiving grants from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, the Food Allergy Initiative, the National Institutes of Health, the National Peanut Board, SHS, and the Wallace Research Foundation; and owning stock or stock options in Allertein and Mast Cell. The other authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) 2012 Annual Meeting. Presented March 4, 2012.

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