The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation (NARF), has announced a new ground-breaking study that aims to prove that commonly-available peanut and milk products, taken under medical supervision, can be used as a treatment for people living with food allergies as an alternative to expensive pharmaceutical drugs.
NARF is the charity set up by Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, following the death of their daughter, Natasha, aged 15, from a severe allergic reaction. The charity aims to raise awareness and understanding of food allergies, to fund research and to ensure policies and laws are in place to protect those who suffer from allergies. Natasha’s Law was introduced in October last year and requires full ingredients labelling of all foods that are prepacked for direct sale (PPDS).
This new, three-year oral immunotherapy (OIT) trial will be the first major study to be funded by NARF. The aim is to bring the level of evidence to a point where OIT using commercially-available foods could be approved for use in the NHS to treat food-allergic patients most at risk of anaphylaxis. If successful, participants with a persistent food allergy will be enabled to live lives where they no longer have to avoid popular foods which might contain small amounts of allergens due to production, and also be able to eat popular foods like cakes, curries and pizza with their friends.
The £2.2m trial will be funded by a gift to the University of Southampton from NARF. The trial will be led by researchers at the University of Southampton partnering with Imperial College London (both World Allergy Organisation Centres of Excellence) together with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Newcastle University and Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Delegates at the recent Leadership and Development Forum of the Hospital Caterers Association heard Nadim and Tanya speak with great emotion about their daughter and their unstinting efforts since her death to try to stop other families losing loved ones to preventable deaths as a result of allergy. At the time, Tanya stated that science is the key and that NARF is looking at the real possibility of ending allergies in the next 20 years.
Announcing the OIT trial, Nadim said: “This is a major first step in our mission to make food allergies history. The aim is to save lives and prevent serious hospitalisations by offering lifelong protection against severe allergic reactions to foods.
“The study aims to plug the current oral immunotherapy research gap by proving that everyday foods can be used as a practical treatment for children and young adults with allergies.
“If successful, this will empower the NHS to provide cost-effective treatments for people living with food allergies through oral immunotherapy. It would enable people, once desensitised under clinical supervision, to control their own lives and stay allergy safe using shop bought foods rather than expensive pharmaceutical products.”