The grant will support research into food allergy biomarkers to identify new avenues for diagnosing, monitoring, and treating patients. A team of researchers, led by Dr Alexandra Santos from the School of Life Course Sciences and the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences
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The grant will support research into food allergy biomarkers to identify new avenues for diagnosing, monitoring, and treating patients.
A team of researchers, led by Dr Alexandra Santos from the School of Life Course Sciences and the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences, have received a prestigious $500,000 research award to undertake a 3-year multicentre randomised control trial, co-sponsored by Food Allergy Research & Education and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
Those living with food allergy are at risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. While there is ongoing research to find better treatments to reduce food allergy symptoms and prevent these attacks, there is presently no cure for the disease.
The proposal submitted by Dr Santos will innovate improvements in food allergy testing and diagnosis. The skin prick tests and antibody-based blood tests most commonly used often fail to provide a definitive diagnosis. Avoiding possible problem foods based on ambiguous test results can unnecessarily limit dietary options, impair nutrition, and impose psychological burdens of stress and anxiety.
To resolve these equivocal results, the current gold-standard test is the oral food challenge, in which patients eat increasing amounts of their possible food allergen under medical supervision and are monitored for reaction symptoms. However, this type of test involves hours of observation and can result in severe symptoms that require emergency care and hospitalisation.
Dr Santos’ group seeks to demonstrate that tests based on basophils and mast cells – two types of cells that participate in allergic reactions – can provide definitive diagnoses for most patients with inconclusive skin prick or antibody-based blood tests, thereby limiting the need for oral food challenges. In depth investigations into food allergy biomarkers also hold promise for predicting the severity of the reactions, which would assist care providers in identifying patients at greatest risk during an oral food challenge.
FARE is a world leading non-governmental organisation engaged in food allergy advocacy and is the largest private funder of food allergy research. Their mission is to improve the quality of life and the health of individuals with food allergies, and to provide hope through the promise of new treatments.
The $250,000 contributed by FARE to fund the Biomarker Research Grant was generously matched by Janssen’s World Without Disease Accelerator, a group focussed on advancing disease prevention, interception and cure solutions.
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