Kate Johnson

October 30, 2014

ATLANTA — New research to be presented here at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting will shine a light on some surprising knowledge gaps about allergy among general physicians, and reveal some questionable sources of information for teens with asthma.

The opening ceremony kicks the meeting off on Saturday, November 8, but things get underway well ahead of that with the popular Thursday agenda.

"The Thursday used to be just kind of a preliminary day, but now it's very well attended and we expect several hundred people," ACAAI President-Elect James Sublett, MD, told Medscape Medical News, explaining that this year's premeeting Thursday will focus entirely on skin.

"We'll be reviewing the ACAAI's new parameters on chronic urticaria, along with similar European guidelines on this topic," said Dr Sublett, who is from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky.

This agenda will include a look at new treatments such as omalizumab which, as reported by Medscape Medical News, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration this year for the treatment of chronic idiopathic urticaria.

Our focus is to deliver information that's immediately applicable and that doctors can put to use in their practice.

"The goal of this year's main meeting, entitled Faces and Facets of Allergy and Immunology, is intended to be "very informative, especially for the practicing allergist," said Dr Sublett. "Our focus is to deliver information that's immediately applicable and that doctors can put to use in their practice."

Allergy-immunology clinicians are certified in either pediatrics or internal medicine. "We treat patients essentially from birth into their geriatric years, so we have plenary sessions focused on both of these," explained Dr Sublett.

Sessions on older patients will focus heavily on what is becoming more widely recognized as "the overlap syndrome" of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

"Allergy-immunologists are seeing more and more of these patients who are midlife or older, and who may have a lifelong history of allergy and asthma but also many risks for COPD, particularly smoking," he said. "So we have sessions distinguishing between chronic asthma and COPD, but also looking at the patients who may have them overlap," he said.

Dr Sublett said a distinct advantage of seeing an allergist-immunologist for COPD is that "we look at the patient holistically. We don't just treat an organ; we treat the entire immune system."

Food Allergy

Food allergy is an ongoing concern, especially in pediatric patients, and some of the big names in food allergy research will be featured in a session entitled A New Era in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Food Allergy. Although oral immunotherapy will be a part of that agenda, "we're still not to the point where the practicing allergists are routinely using oral immunotherapy, mainly because of the risk involved in more severe food allergy," Dr Sublett explained.

The development of practice parameters for indoor air allergens has been an ongoing project of ACAAI over the past 18 months, and a morning session on Monday will give an overview of these new publications.

"We now have new parameters published or in the process of being published on all the indoor air issues — we have one on furry animals, on dust mites, on cockroaches, and on rodents, and there is one in review on mold and fungi," Dr Sublett reported.

The social highlight of the meeting will be a fundraising dinner with a performance by jazz great and seven-time Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the ACAAI Foundation, to support Fellows-in-Training Program Relief Grants, Young Faculty Support Awards, and other foundation programs.

Dr. Sublett is founder and chair of AllergyZone, an online marketer of allergy relief products. He reports financial relationships with Aerocrine, Asthmapolis, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Meda, Merck, Sunovion, Teva, AstraZeneca, and Forest.


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