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Some scientists at the University of East Anglia in Norwich are about to start a study to see if yoghurt drinks could be used to ease fay fever symptoms.
The team has already completed a pilot study on a very small group of people with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) which indicates that yoghurt type drinks with Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) can modulate immune responses.
The new year long research is being widened by inviting volunteers who get hay fever to join the study to see if the drinks have an impact on the clinical symptoms of the problem.
It is estimated that hay fever affects over 600 million people, and numbers are rising and there is no known cure.
Hay fever, which can lead to asthma, causes significant discomfort, interrupted sleep and impairs concentration at school or work. It is estimated that UK businesses will lose around £324m through lost days this summer alone.
Dr Andrew Wilson said: “Previous studies in this area have been inconclusive, but our pilot is the first to identify that probiotic substances – such as in these drinks - can regulate the immune system.
“We are now looking for volunteers to help us take our study forward. The benefits of a reasonably cheap and self-administered non-drug ‘treatment’ are clear. Our study will also provide evidence to the viability for the many health claims around these products which could result in clear guidance for the general public.”
They hope to have some results before the hay fever season starts next summer.
How to volunteer
Dr Andrew Wilson on 01603 289876 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers must be over 16 and will be asked to attend the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital seven times over a four month period. All volunteers will benefit from an allergy and respiratory ‘MOT’, find out what they’re allergic to, have their breathing tested and have expenses of up to £250 paid.