The EFRAIM project ran between February 2008 and January 2012 and was funded within the 7th Framework Programme by the European Commission. EFRAIM was the follow-up of the FP5-EC-project PASTURE (Protection against Allergy: Study in Rural Environments; 2001 – 2005).
The EFRAIM project prospectively investigated protective factors in early life influencing the development of allergies in birth cohorts conducted in rural areas in five European countries. Detailed information on a great variety of environmental exposures was collected and large biobanks have been established. The mechanisms mediating these protective exposures such as the maturation of immune responses, gut colonisation, the mucosal barrier function and the genetic and epigenetic factors interacting with the environmental exposures were investigated.
Currently, allergic diseases can be managed effectively but not cured. The knowledge about protective exposures early in life can, however, be turned into the development of preventive strategies. The EFRAIM project was expected to produce ground-breaking new insights on protective agents and their mechanisms that can be used to prevent the further development of allergies.