Featured News Ray of hope for fish allergy sufferers

Fri, 11 Jan 2019
Ray of hope for fish allergy sufferers
Stingray
Image: David Clode

Stingray flesh might be a surprising seafood substitute for sufferers of fish allergy, according to new research from JCU’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine and collaborators in Europe.

JCU Molecular Allergy Research Laboratory researcher Dr Aya Taki said fish allergy is one of the most common food allergies worldwide and cannot be outgrown, unlike allergies to egg or milk.

“Fish allergy is a life-threatening disease because of the frequency with which sufferers experience anaphylactic shock.  There is no cure for it and people who have it must avoid any food even potentially containing fish,” she said.

Dr Taki and JCU colleague Professor Andreas Lopata collaborated on an experiment that saw people allergic to fish eat stingray flesh instead.

“Despite having a proven allergy to fish, 10 out of 11 patients were able to eat ray without suffering any signs of an allergic reaction. This gives us great hope that millions of patients living with fish allergy could soon consume fish in their daily diet and enjoy healthier living,” said Dr Taki.

“We discovered that the major fish allergen, parvalbumin, is much less likely to cause an allergic reaction when it came from the flesh of rays,” she said.

The JCU research team is also testing shark flesh, or ‘flake’, as a seafood alternative for fish allergy sufferers, in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital in Westmead. Sharks and rays both have cartilage skeletons, unlike bony fish, meaning they are evolutionarily distinct from other fish and contain different levels of allergen.

“Despite the similarities, the shark flesh results are not as promising for fish allergy sufferers as the ray meat trials. They may not be as safe to eat as rays,” said Dr Taki.

Further investigations are underway at JCU and more information about the safety of shark meat will be released in early 2019.

The international research team behind the ray discovery includes scientists from Australia, Luxembourg, Denmark and Austria.

JCU’s Dr Taki and Professor Lopata are working with Medical University of Vienna researchers Professor Heimo Breiteneder and Ms Tanja Kalic from the Institute for Pathophysiology and Allergy Research.

More information: The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice

"Fish-allergic patients tolerate ray based on the low allergenicity of its parvalbumin." T. Kalic, F. Morel-Codreanu, C. Radauer, T. Ruethers, A. C. Taki, I. Swoboda, C. Hilger, K. Hoffmann-Sommergruber, M. Ollert, C. Hafner, A. L. Lopata, M. Morisset, H. Breiteneder, A. Kuehn. November 2018, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaip.2018.11.011.

Contacts

Professor Andreas L Lopata
T: 07 4781 4563
E: andreas.lopata@jcu.edu.au

Dr Aya C Taki
E: aya.taki@jcu.edu.au or whitenoe.at@gmail.com