Participating in Food Allergy Research

By Kathy Franklin

Effective treatments for food allergy are being tested right now, at numerous hospitals all over the U.S., with major funding and support from the National Institutes of Health. Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of food allergic patients willing to participate in these clinical research trials.

Currently on trial for safety

Recent studies have shown amazing results. In one milk allergy treatment that was tested at Stanford and at Harvard, previously anaphylactic children were able to safely consume 8000 mg. of milk. That’s about 2 teaspoons, which is remarkable. For more details on this study by Nadeau et. al., published in 2011 in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, click here.

In another exciting study, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in New York found that many milk-allergic children grew out of their allergies sooner via a medically controlled regimen of eating products containing gradually increasing amounts of baked milk. Go to www.faiusa.org or click here.

Despite these and many other incredibly promising research results, the food allergy community is not taking the final step in achieving the life-saving treatments we’re all waiting for. We need to volunteer for these clinical research trials. The therapies cannot be approved and brought to market until scientifically rigorous studies on larger numbers of patients are completed. The only people who can be tested — those with food allergies — need to participate.

Sometimes parents and children are eager to volunteer, but there may be fear of the testing. It is important to know that these are medically supervised, carefully monitored, pre-tested treatments in hospital settings. My son recently completed his second clinical trial, testing the Chinese Herbal Treatment (FAHF-2). I was so impressed with how carefully monitored he was. It wasn’t scary at all, as it turned out. A little boring, maybe, but not scary.

The biggest draw for me has always been that, if the treatment works as hoped, he’s protected right now. What I hadn’t realized is how incredibly empowering it is for these kids to help find the cure for their own allergies. Taking action to help themselves, and others like them, is a potent countermeasure to the usual “avoid and react” posture we all must live with daily. It is so moving to hear the children speak of their pride in having contributed.

The doctors and researchers are doing their part. Now it’s our turn to seek out current food allergy clinical research trials and contact the study coordinators for more information.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Food Allergy Clinical Trials (for peanut, tree nut, sesame, fish, or shellfish allergy) are now being conducted in New York, Chicago, and Arkansas. For more details, contact Jaime Ross at (212) 241-6577 or at jaime.ross@mssm.edu in New York, (888) 573-1833 or allergystudy@childrensmemorial.org in Chicago, or June Straw at jastraw@uams.edu in Arkansas.

For information about ongoing milk allergy research, contact Sally Noone at sally.noone@mssm.edu or 212-241-0336 at Mount Sinai in New York, or Miranda Anderson-White at mander47@jhmi.edu 410-502-1711 at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

Peanut and tree nut therapy studies, in addition to the Chinese Herbal Study, are underway in Boston and at Duke.

That’s just a sampling. To find food allergy research near you, go to http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/search and type in “Food Allergy” to see the many studies now enrolling nationwide.

Through greater participation, we will find a cure!

We’d love to hear from our readers in other countries about any food allergy research opportunities near them. This is, of course, a worldwide problem, and will require research results – and food-allergic volunteers — from many cities, states, and countries around the world. To leave a comment or question, just click “Contact” at the top of this page.

Photo by http://www.wksktheheat.com/

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