I was reading the New York Times Business section on Saturday and learned something I hadn’t seen in a medical journal: a new breakthrough device to help children and adults treat a severe allergic reaction from a food or insect sting with more peace of mind. The device, called Auvi-Q, is an epinephrine injection with automated voice instructions.
The story behind this new device is right out of a scene from the popular show “Shark Tank” on ABC. The invention came from 2 brothers, twins Eric and Evan Edwards from Virginia, who grew up with severe food allergies. The two boys and their parents worried constantly that they were going to have a life-threatening reaction when eating out in places where possible foof allergies were lurking. The boys made a promise to themselves that when they got older they would invent something to help others deal with the fear of food allergies and not succumb to these fears.
Eric and Evan went off to separate colleges but kept their main goal in site: to develop a device to help others cope with food allergies. Evan chose an engineering major to learn the technical aspects of creating a device, and Eric studied pharmacy to learn the therapeutic use of an allergy treatment. The key breakthrough the young entrepeneurs made was to improve the current injectable epinephrine device, which is used to treat anaphylaxis for a food or insect allergy. They accomplished this by adding a voice activated system to this small instrument so that anyone can follow the simple instructions during an allergic emergency. I watched the video demonstration on www.Auvi-Q.com and it is very user-friendly, especially for children. As a food allergy specialist in NYC, I will strongly advise my patients who currently need injectible adrenaline to purchase an Auvi-Q. Interestingly, it’s very similar to the voice activated automatic defribillators that are in all the schools and airports now–the voice activation gives you simple instructions to get you through those chaotic emergencies.
These are really exciting times in treatment and prevention of food allergies–especially in regard to peanuts. In my NYC allergy specialist practice, we have been testing patients with the new blood test for peanut allergy called the UKnow Peanut test, which measures the specific proteins in the peanut that help determine if a patient has the particular proteins that put them at greater risk for a severe allergic reaction to peanut. This new test shows promise in decreasing the need to do food challenges to determine whether a patient’s food allergy to peanut has changed.
I was also very excited to see in January’s issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2013, that a group of medical centers have shown that children with peanut allergy could be successfully desenstized to peanut through sublingual allergy immunotherapy. This is the second major article that has proved this concept–the first was from Duke University in the November 2011 issue of the same journal. I was very pleased because in my book, Dr. Dean Mitchell’s Allergy and Asthma Solution(Marlowe 2006), I predicted that sublingual allergy drops could someday aide food allergy patients and change their lives. I currently use sublingual allergy drops to help my patients with environmental allergies to cats, dogs, pollens, dust and mold; however, I can see in the near future using allergy drops to block a severe food allergy to peanut or any other food.
I am very optimistic that in the next few years we are going to make huge advances in helping food allergy patients live better lives.
Kudos to the Edwards brothers–when you want a problem solved don’t wait for the next guy, just do it yourself!
To Your Good Health,