Warmest regards from the Center for Allergy and Immunology at Yitzhak Shamir (Assaf Harofeh) Medical Center. The Corona pandemic is still raging, and Israel is in the midst of another lockdown. Fortunately however, we have benefitted from an extensive vaccination campaign, which will hopefully soon yield immunity in the broader population. Professor Arnon Elizur, the director of our Center, also serves on the board of the Israel Association of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and co-wrote its position paper regarding vaccination for allergic patients. This guidance will facilitate safe and effective vaccination protocols for those with potential concerns. We are happy to report on several journal articles that have been published since our last update. First, in collaboration with our partners at the Bar Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, we have published a paper describing distinctive features of the stool microbiome population in food allergic patients. Some of these features also distinguished between different types of food allergies and were differentially associated with the presence of short chain fatty acids. We are continuing our work, examining whether stool microbiome features can also be tracked in patients as they progress through oral immunotherapy. And, we continue our bench research examining whether components of stool can mediate direct immune-related effects in cell culture. Secondly in the clinical arena, we report that subjective oral symptoms, such as tingling or itchiness, may not always reflect true allergic reactivity. Approximately 30% of the patients who complained of these symptoms during a food challenge, were able to successfully complete their challenge. This finding highlights a potential for false positive food allergy diagnoses, which can lead to unnecessary stress and hardships for patients. Our patients benefit from the experience and expertise of our clinical staff, who safely administer oral food challenges, yielding accurate diagnoses. At the same time, our research team continues to investigate alternative diagnostic approaches, with the goal of minimizing reliance on oral food challenges. We are very excited about our continued progress in these challenging times, and wish to express our gratitude to you-our donors and partners, in continuing to support our work. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021!
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