Islamabad - Researchers have found new genetic factors linked to peanut allergy and food allergy. This discovery offers further evidence of the role of genes in these conditions, and it should clarify directions for future research and new diagnostics and treatments.

The Canadian team explains how it scanned millions of genetic markers in nearly 1,900 people and re-analyzed data pooled from six other genetic studies to reach the new findings.

Food allergy arises when the body’s immune system wrongly reacts to a specific food as if it were a harmful substance. The symptoms and severity of the reaction can be different in different people, as well as different in the same person at different times. Sometimes they can be sudden and life-threatening, such as in anaphylaxis.

Research suggests that around 4 percent of children and teenagers are affected by food allergy in the United States, where eight types of food account for 90 percent of cases. These food types are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish, eggs, crustacean shellfish, soy, and wheat.

“One of the hurdles in developing new treatments for food allergies,” explains co-first author Aida Eslami, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia in Canada, “is identifying the specific genes and pathways we need to target.”

The new study is the first to link a known gene called c11orf30/EMSY (EMSY) to food allergy.EMSY has already been linked to eczema, asthma, and other allergy-related conditions, and the new discovery supports the idea that it has a wider key role in predisposing people to allergy generally.

In their study paper, the researchers discuss how food allergy is the result of both genes and environment. Many studies have examined and confirmed the role of environment.

For example, the authors note that in the case of peanut allergy, the role of environment is supported by studies that show that “early oral exposure to peanut leads to development of tolerance.”

Evidence that peanut allergy is rising rapidly and differs among nations also supports the idea that environment is important, as this “cannot be explained by genetic changes.”

However, evidence on the genetic basis of food allergy is much less abundant. If there were more genetic clues, then researchers would be in a better position to develop tools that can identify children at risk.

For the new study, the Canadian researchers scanned more than 7.5 million genetic locations in the DNA of 850 people with peanut allergy and nearly 1,000 people without it to search for markers that might be linked to food allergy. They recruited the peanut allergy participants from the Canadian Peanut Allergy Registry.The team also conducted a fresh analysis of results pooled from six other genetic studies of populations in North America, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The results showed that EMSY was linked to a raised risk of peanut allergy as well as food allergy. The team also found evidence that five other genetic locations might be involved.

In previously published work, the researchers had already established that a fault in another gene called filaggrin can raise children’s risk of peanut allergy. However, that study only offered a genetic explanation for around 20 percent of cases.

The new findings now offer many more genetic clues about the causes of peanut and food allergy, note the authors.

For instance, the new evidence suggests that some of the genetic markers may exert their influence by altering the expression of other genes through “epigenetic regulation.”

Meanwhile, another research suggests juggling the demands of modern life can leave little time for breakfast, despite it being hailed as the most important meal of the day. But contrary to previous research, a new study suggests that skipping breakfast may not necessarily cause us to eat more later on.

The study, which involved 40 teenage girls, found that participants consumed more than 350 fewer calories on days when they missed breakfast, compared with the days when they ate breakfast.

Lead study author Dr Julia Zakrzewski-Fruer, of the University of Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom, and colleagues say that their results challenge previous research suggesting that skipping breakfast may lead to overeating later in the day.

For many, having breakfast is a major part of our daily routine. For others, those extra few minutes in bed are preferable to a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal. In fact, a 2015 survey found that only 47 percent of people in the United States eat breakfast every day.

But what effect does skipping breakfast have on our health? Previous research has linked breakfast omission to poorer heart health, while other studies have suggested that missing a morning meal may lead to overeating and increase a person’s risk of obesity.

For this latest study, Dr Zakrzewski-Fruer and colleagues sought to find out more about the latter.

The study included 40 girls aged 11–15 years. Each subject was required to participate in two 3-day breakfast conditions. In one condition, participants consumed a standard, low glycemic index (GI) breakfast, which contained 468 calories. In the other condition, participants did not eat breakfast.

Dr Zakrzewski-Fruet and team say that the aim of their research was to “examine the effect of 3 consecutive days of breakfast consumption compared with breakfast omission on free-living energy intake and physical activity in adolescent girls.”

As part of the study, each participant was required to keep a food diary, and their physical activity levels were monitored with an accelerometer.

The researchers found that on days when participants missed breakfast, they consumed a total of 353 fewer calories than on days when they ate breakfast.

Breakfast consumption appeared to have no influence on physical activity levels, the team reports.

While the team’s study cannot prove how skipping influences food intake and weight breakfast, the researchers believe that it does raise questions about the presumed benefits of eating breakfast.

“There are many reports,” says study co-author Dr. Keith Tolfrey, of Loughborough University in the U.K, “that show missing breakfast is associated with obesity, which may have led to premature assumptions that breakfast can be used as an intervention for weight control.”

He adds, “But we do not know why eating breakfast is associated with a lower likelihood of being overweight or obese, or whether eating breakfast can be used effectively as a weight control strategy.”

“Further research will help to determine whether daily breakfast consumption can be used as an intervention to reduce future disease risk in young people,” concludes Dr Tolfrey.