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FDA approval could provide relief for those allergic to meat after tick bite

Posted August 28, 2019 8:54 p.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2019 9:14 p.m. EDT

— Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made an announcement Wednesday in Raleigh that could change lives across the country - and maybe save a few lives.

The agency has developed a way to help people who develop allergies to meat after they were bitten by a tick.

The announcement revolves around a genetically-engineered product that can provide relief.

A bite from a Lone Star tick can lead to an allergy to red meat, also known as Alpha-gal syndrome.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler developed the condition when he was bitten by a Lone Star tick in Brazil 18 months ago.

"I'm continuing to have blood tests to see where I'm at," he said. "If I eat a piece of red meat, my temperature in a couple of hours starts to rise pretty rapidly and I break out in hives all over."

The FDA granted Revivicor, a bio-tech firm, with permission to conduct the type of research on genetically engineered pigs that will allow people with Alpha-gal syndrome to eat red meat again.

"For consumers, like Commissioner Troxler, that have this allergic condition, this is a significant change," said Steven Solomon, who works for the FDA.

The research could also could have implications for patients beyond the food chain.

Said Dr. Scott Commins, a researcher at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine: "It's more than just beef, pork or lamb, it's heart valves and Heparin and pancreatic enzymes. All those things are derived from cattle and swine."

The product is in the research phase but it could be an important first step to providing relief.