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Discoveries and developments in Allergy over the Years

A summary of discoveries and advances in allergy and its treatments over the last 193 years

1828  First description of hay fever – Jonathon Bostock

1859  Charles Harrison Blackley, a doctor based in Manchester, discovers hay fever – known as the  ‘summer cold ‘

1870  The first investigations of hay fever were published by Blackley who studied grass pollen in the UK and Wyman who studied ragweed pollen in the USA

1890  First reported use of skin prick testing in relation to hay fever

1900s Discovery of the immune system by leading scientists - Louis Pasteur, Paul Erhlich, Elie Metchnikoff, Jules Bordet y Emil A. Von Behring

1900s Discovery of Adrenaline by Japanese-American biochemist Jokichi Takamine

1902  Discovery of anaphylaxis attributed to PORTIER &Richet

1905  Von Pirquet work in allergy leads the way to an increased  understanding of allergic disease, the immune system and production of histamine mediators

1906 Von Pirquot defined the term ‘Allergy’ 

1908  The first reported successful oral immunotherapy of a child with egg induced anaphylaxis (OIT) was published in the Lancet 

1911  Immunotherapy  - Noon

1912  The concept of using extracted protein from foods for scratch testing in the diagnosis of food allergy was reported by Schloss

1913  Richet received the Nobel Prize for his work on anaphylaxis

1924  Lewis and Grant first described how to use the skin prick test (SPT) method.

1927  Establishment of the Asthma Research Council

1929  The first edition of  the Journal of Allergy was published

1930s-1950s  Allergic disease reported to increase by 10-13%

1948  Corticosteroids were successfully used to reduce the inflammation in asthma attacks

The 40’s and 50’s also saw the development of food labelling for allergens and non biological cleaning products

1950  Manufacture of corticosteroids as tablets

1950s Saw the discovery of the mast cell – a huge step forward in understanding the immune mechanism involved in allergy

1950s  Dr Wlliam Frankland and Dr Augustin carried out the first immunotherapy pilot

1953  Detection of lymphocytes

1951  The international Allergy Academy (IAA) was founded in Zurich (officially formed in 1945)

1960’s  Saw a notable increase in asthma reported

1960  The detection of immunoglobulin E (IgE ) antibody by Teruko and Kimishige Ishizaka and Gunnar Johansson and Hans Bennich

1963  Philip Gell and Robin Coombs’ classification of hypersensitivity. The classification divided these adverse allergic reactions into the types I to IV, based on initiating immune mechanisms

1967  Blood tests to detect IgE levels developed

1970s  Sheldon Kaplan invented the Epipen for use with the US military. The Epipen was first manufactured by shelter technology Inc  and  approved for general  use in anaphylaxis in the late 80s

In the mid-1970s, Charles May and his colleagues reported on the use of the double-blind, placebo-controlled oral food challenge (DBPCFC) this is now  accepted as the “gold standard” for the diagnosis of food allergy

1980s  Research into the use of immune suppressive treatments such as cyclosporine and methotrexate in allergic conditions

1982  The Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was awarded for work on leukotrienes

1988- 91  The first allergens were cloned

1990 – Reported Allergy levels amongst the population were reported to have increased fourfold since the 1940s. An allergy epidemic was acknowledged

1995  First public recognition of the rise in peanut allergy

1995-2000  Research found a peak of asthma prevalence and severity

1990s  First reported dedicated allergy clinics were set up

2001  Publication of the first institutional attempt to standardize the nomenclature for allergology. Supported by EACCI and WAO, the result was published in 2001 as a Position Statement .  

Set up of the National Allergy Strategy group (NASG) an alliance of professional and patient organisations to improve allergy care in the UK

2003  Publication of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Report 'Allergy the Unmet need’

2004  House of Commons Health Committee Report on allergy

2005 Biological therapy (omalizumab monoclonal therapy) was first licensed for use in asthma treatment in the UK for ages 12 years and upwards and in 2009 approval was given for ages 6 years and upwards

2006 Department of health report with many outcomes including:

  • National competence framework (Skills for Health) (allergy competencies were defined for various health professional groups)
  • Care Pathways for children for different allergies, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health(PCPCH)
  • NICE guidelines in allergy
  • Nature and Extent of Allergy in the UK 2006. A BSACI Report in ‘Evidence to the DH Report’.
  • BSACI report

2006 Sublingual immunotherapy tablet is approved for use in Europe

  • Isaac’s immunocap accepted for use worldwide

2007 House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Report on allergy

2007 NICE Guidelines incorporating use of monoclonal therapy for ages 12 years and upwards and in 2012 revised guidelines to include ages six years and upwards

2009 Scottish Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee:  ‘Review of allergy services’

2010 Royal College of Physicians RCP and RCPath Report ‘Still not meeting the unmet need’

2015 All Party Parliament Group for Allergy first established

2017 Immunotherapy is included in Guidelines as a treatment option

2018/19 Allergy in Primary Care: improving awareness and knowledge of allergy through GP training and education. Working with RCGP- achievement: allergy was added to the curriculum for trainee GPs 

2020 Discovery of Jak inhibters and other biologic therapies  for use in allergic disease

Introduction of NICE Guidelines for allergy

  • Eczema in under 12s [CG57] 2007
  • Anaphylaxis: assessment and referral after emergency treatment [CG134] 2011
  • Food allergy in children and young people [CG116] 2011
  • Bee and wasp venom allergy treatment [TA246] 2012
  • Omalizumab for treating severe persistent allergic asthma [TA278] 2013
  • Drug allergy: diagnosis and management [CG183] 2014
  • Quality standard Drug allergy [QS95] 2015
  • Quality standard Anaphylaxis [QS119] 2016
  • Quality standard Food allergy [QS118] 2016
  • ImmunoCAP ISAC and Microtest for allergy testing [DG24] 2016

SIGN guidelines

2011  Management of atopic eczema in primary care

2019  British guideline on the management of asthma (158)

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