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The dramatic rise in all types of allergy in the past 20 to 30 years, including food allergies, is striking. There is evidence that peanut allergy has doubled just in the last five years. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that all food allergies are on the rise and three million children in the United States – including nearly 8 percent of young children – now have at least one food allergy.
Currently we are asking for your support for the world’s first study on the treatment of wheat allergy.
Renowned food allergy expert Robert Wood, chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Hopkins Children’s, and author of Food Allergies for Dummies, was the first to show that some children do outgrow a peanut allergy. Our investigators have now shown that, contrary to popular belief, milk and egg allergies are outgrown much more slowly than previously thought and that a great number of children never outgrow these allergies.
Wood is the principal investigator of 17 different research studies and a co-investigator in five other studies. All are directed, in one way or another, at addressing the critical challenges of asthma and food allergies.
Current Research and Planned Trials
1. Oral and sublingual immunotherapy for the treatment of food allergynull
- In 2007, Dr. Wood initiated a study of oral immunotherapy for children with severe, persistent milk allergy. This study was the first study of its kind in the world and it produced dramatic results, showing that the average child could tolerate over 100 times more milk after the treatment, and that some appear to be completely cured.
- A second milk immunotherapy study was initiated in September, 2008. This study was also the first of its kind in that it compared oral and sublingual immunotherapy in a group of children with severe milk allergy that would almost certainly never go away on its own. This study, which was published in early 2012, demonstrated that both forms of treatment are effective but that oral immunotherapy appears to be far superior, at least for milk allergy.
- In 2010, Dr. Wood began a study of oral and sublingual immunotherapy for peanut allergy, a unique combination that has never been studied for this highly prevalent and potentially deadly allergy. This study is ongoing and remains a major focus of current fund-raising efforts.
- In 2011, Dr. Wood initiated a study on the use of anti-IgE antibody (omalizumab) in combination with oral immunotherapy for milk allergy, another novel study seeking to find the best way to treat the most highly allergic children with milk allergy.
2. The Consortium for Food Allergy Research (CoFAR)
Five academic medical centers, including Hopkins Children’s, have been funded by the NIH for another 5 years and charged with the task of exploring the rise in food allergy and developing THE CURE. Studies include:
- The natural progression of food allergy from infancy through age 10 years
- Oral immunotherapy for the treatment of egg allergy
- Sublingual immunotherapy for the treatment of peanut allergy
- Treatment of peanut allergy with modified, recombinant peanut proteins – a “peanut vaccine”
- A study on eosinophilic esophagitis
3. The Inner-City Asthma Consortium (ICAC)
Eight academic medical centers, including Hopkins Children’s and funded by the NIH, are seeking to unravel the causes of and develop new treatments for asthma in inner-city children. Current studies in this consortium include:
- A birth cohort study of inner-city asthma
- Studies of sublingual immunotherapy for cockroach allergy, the first studies of their kind in the world
4. The natural history of childhood food allergy
A series of studies conducted over the past 10 years – and likely for next 10 – 20 years (until we perfect the cure) on what food allergy does over time, what is outgrown and what is not, and WHY.
What’s on the horizon?
We are already planning our research docket for 2013 and 2014. These new efforts will include:
- A 2nd study on oral immunotherapy for egg allergy
- A study using a skin patch to treat peanut allergy
- The first study of peanut immunotherapy in 1-3 year olds
- The world’s first study on wheat immunotherapy
While some of these studies have NIH funding, it is critical to recognize that many could never happen without your support. If we can raise sufficient philanthropic funds moving forward, our dream will be to begin immunotherapy studies for the other common food allergies in 2014.
How You Can Help Advance Research
Immunologist Robert Wood and his team of experts have extensive experience in clinical and laboratory research in asthma and allergy, including the development of novel allergy treatments, and we are therefore especially well equipped to take on this important challenge. A true treatment is on the horizon within this decade or the next.
For more information on how to help fund these programs and/or the work of Dr. Wood and his team, contact Jen Doyle, Office of Development, Hopkins Children’s, 410-516-4636.
Examples of Helping: Proceeds from these ventures help fund food allergy research at Hopkins Children's.
- Allergic Kids Just Want to Be One of the Gang: A mother sets out to illustrate for her son, and others like him, that food allergies are not roadblocks to healthy, happy lives.
- A Young Singer Makes Funding Food Allergies EZ: A teenager’s creates an effective fundraiser for food allergy research at Hopkins Children’s.
Robert Wood Talks about His Food Allergy Research
Director of pediatric allergy and immunology at Hopkins Children’s, Robert Wood believes we are 10-20 years away from a true treatment of food allergies, one that would allow patients to eat the foods to which they are allergic. At Hopkins Children’s, cutting-edge research studies are improving the quality of life for these patients today.
Watch Dr. Wood discuss food allergy research.