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Food allergy education, advocacy, and support

The Allergy Buster

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InTheNews-AllergyBuster03The March 7, 2013 edition of the New York Times included an article featuring the work of Dr. Kari Nadeau, who is conducting a trial to desensitize patients with multiple food allergies. It is a well-written article with a long lead-in that tells the struggles of the Grosso family, a story familiar to any family with food-allergic members.

​In the past five years, studies at various centers have shown that children can be safely desensitized to single allergens, including peanut, milk, and egg. These treatments re-educate the hyperactive immune systems of food-allergic patients by giving them tiny, daily doses of their allergen. Over time, patients develop a tolerance to the allergen, decreasing the likelihood of a serious allergic reaction.

InTheNews-AllergyBuster01Families of children with multiple food allergies approached Dr. Nadeau and asked if an individual could be desensitized to more than one food allergen at a time. A lack of collaborators and funding posed challenges, but Dr. Nadeau started the work on her own (going without a salary for three years) and through innovative grassroots philanthropy started her groundbreaking work in November 2011.

​Two trials included a total of 85 patients, each of who could be desensitized to up to five allergens. One trial used Xolair, a powerful drug that blocks allergic reactions by inhibiting the IgE antibody that creates anaphylaxis. With Xolair, some children were able to rapidly escalate their allergen doses and complete their treatments in a fraction of the typical time.

In a matter of months, children were desensitized to multiple food allergens at the same time, dramatically improving their quality of life.

InTheNews-AllergyBuster02The studies have also shown that these treatments warrant further investigation, leading to an increase in funding and plans to broaden the studies to several allergy centers across the country. If those studies are successful and the FDA approves the treatment, it may become the standard of care for food-allergic patients.

Dr. Nadeau stresses that oral immunotherapy is still experimental and does not cure the patient. Rather, they are desensitized enough so they can tolerate their former allergens. Each patient must continue to eat maintenance doses of the food everyday to avoid losing their tolerance.

What hopeful news!

Of note: these and preceding desensitization trials used exacting, escalating measurements that were always administered under direct supervision of an allergist. NEVER attempt treatments like these without a medical provider or in a non-medical setting like your home.

 

Review by Charity Luiskutty, PA-C
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