A journey of research and innovation in the fight against allergies

kids eating berries

Nestlé has a long history in the research and innovation of product solutions that address allergy prevention and management. This includes cow's milk protein allergy (CMPA) in infants, peanut allergy in older children, and even environmental allergies, such as cat allergies.

Food allergies affect around 240-550 million people worldwide. They are most common in infants and children. While in most cases, food allergies cause mild symptoms, some can cause severe reactions, and may even be life-threatening.

Breastmilk provides the best start in life for all infants, including those with allergies. For many years, Nestlé has focused on the development of science-based solutions to help manage and prevent allergies in infants who cannot be breastfed. Its first whey-based extensively hydrolyzed formula was launched more than 30 years ago. Today, Nestlé's portfolio includes products that are suitable for managing cow's milk protein allergy, which is one of the most common food allergies in infants and young children. The company also develops products for infants at risk of developing certain conditions such as atopic dermatitis, hay fever and allergic asthma. Current research efforts focus on the role of the microbiome in the development or management of food allergies.

Recent studies show that exposing children to potential food allergens at a young age can help to reduce the development of an allergy to that food. Nestlé Health Science has invested in Before Brands, which has pioneered products in this space. The main product, SpoonfulOne® aims to provide the convenience and confidence for parents to introduce 16 food allergens into their infant's diet, to create diet diversity during complementary feeding from 6 months onwards.

Accidental exposure to food allergens must also be addressed through innovation. Nestlé recently acquired Aimmune Therapeutics, a California-based company that developed the first and only FDA-approved treatment, Palforzia®, to help reduce the frequency and severity of allergic reactions to peanuts, including anaphylaxis, in children aged 4 through to 17 years. This new treatment approach has global significance, as a peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children and adults.

Beyond its efforts to address food allergies, Nestlé also invests in the development of novel solutions to help with the management of pet allergies. After more than a decade of research, Nestlé Purina scientists discovered how to significantly reduce active levels of the major cat allergen, Fel d 1, at its source in cats' saliva. This led to the launch of Purina Pro Plan LiveClear, the first and only cat food that reduces the allergens on cat hair and dander, and ultimately the environment. As part of a comprehensive allergy management program, this approach can help reduce cat allergens while keeping the cat in its loving home.

To learn more about the scientific advancement of allergies, including Nestlé's efforts, read the December issue of Nature Outlook, sponsored by Nestlé Research and Development.