Monday, February 22, 2010

New Food Allergy Desensitization Research Project in England

by Kelley Lindberg

The British newspaper The Telegraph is reporting that a British doctor has been awarded one million British pounds to begin a new research project on the desensitization of children to their peanut allergies. (See “AAAS: Cure for Peanut Allergy ‘Within Three Years’.”) This study will involve 104 children – his previous study involved only 23 children, and 21 of them were eventually able to tolerate a limited number of peanuts without a reaction.

This new research project is expected to last three years, and the doctor, Dr. Andrew Clark of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England, expresses hope that his desensitization cure will help transform the lives of food-allergic people.

In his study, he gives children a minute amount of peanut flour mixed with yogurt. They ingest this amount at regular doses on a strict schedule, carefully desensitizing the child to the allergen over a long period of time. At the end of the study, he hopes to be able to transition to clinical treatment for other peanut-allergic patients. However, if I understand correctly, he does not yet know if these children will have to maintain a weekly dosing schedule to keep their immunity in place, or if the three-year treatment will provide a long-lasting tolerance. He says a separate long-term study is needed to determine how permanent the solution will be.

It’s exciting to see more and more studies like this being funded. Whether or not this treatment really turns out to be the “cure” we’re all hoping for remains to be seen over the next three years, of course, but this is definitely one of the more promising treatments that scientists are focusing on. As I’ve mentioned before in my blog postings, food allergy studies have a bad habit of contradicting each other, but in this case, desensitization studies seem to be showing a generally positive trend. They haven’t worked for all the participants, but enough that it’s very encouraging.

British writer Delia Lloyd, on the Politics Daily website (see “Parents Rejoice: Peanut Allergy Cure Within Sight, British Study Finds”), talks more about this study and how its results will ultimately affect food-allergic people. Her own son is allergic to peanuts, so her reaction to this study is not just informed, but personal. It’s interesting – do check it out.

Every day, I’m more encouraged about the progress I’ve seen in food allergy research over the last decade. Thanks to these dedicated scientists and researchers, maybe by the time my son is raising kids of his own, food allergies will be an easily treated or even preventable disease. It will be nice to know he can spend his sleepless nights as a parent worrying about something else, like dating, driving lessons, report cards…

1 comment:

Delia Lloyd said...

Thank you for the link-I'm most grateful!


Delia Lloyd