Food allergies have become a world-wide public health problem, and allergy to peanuts is particularly problematic. In the U.S., ingestion of offending food allergens is the single most common cause of anaphylaxis seen in hospital emergency departments, and it is estimated that about 30,000 food-induced anaphylactic events are seen in U.S. emergency departments each year;sadly, about 200 of these events prove fatal. Either peanuts or tree nuts cause the majority of these deaths, and a recent survey in the U.S. found that 1.4% of the population is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts. Prior trials of immune desensitization using traditional and rush allergen protocols in patients with peanut allergy (PA) have shown partial rates of response but, unfortunately, have resulted in high rates of adverse reactions, including anaphylaxis. Recently, landmark studies by Dr. A. Wesley Burks and colleagues have shown success in desensitizing peanut-allergic children to peanut via an oral immunotherapy (OIT) protocol. The Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research (SAFAR, pronounced "safer") is a multidisciplinary group whose goals are: 1) to develop and exploit state-of-the-art analytical methods, including advances in human immune monitoring, to improve understanding ofthe immune responses that give rise to food allergies and that underlie promising new approaches to treat this disorder, and 2) to contribute to the development and testing of improved approaches to diagnose, monitor, and treat subjects with food allergies. In this U19 application, we propose to conduct a large placebo-controlled, randomized, phase 2 clinical trial of OIT in children and adults with PA and to measure a broad range of cellular, serologic, and clinical findings in longitudinal samples from PA patients undergoing the trial, as well as from appropriate control subjects (namely, groups of placebo-treated PA subjects, healthy controls, and atopic controls without PA). These data will be used to determine how key immune system parameters are altered during OIT, and which are most predictive of the nature and durability of patient responses to this therapy. In addition, we seek to define immune monitoring parameters, including findings derived from analyses of basophil phenotype and function that can be rapidly performed In a clinical laboratory using very small amounts of blood, that could be used to predict the clinical reactivity to peanut in PA subjects, to improve the safety and efficacy of OIT protocols, and/or to tailor the OIT protocol to each individual subject. We hope that such work will help to achieve the goal of devising a safe and effective curative treatment of this severe disorder.
Peanut allergy (PA) is an increasingly common disorder which can cause serious illness and death in children and adults. We will use Innovative approaches for DNA sequencing, immune monitoring, and data analysis to investigate factors responsible for PA and to improve our ability to manipulate the immune system to cure subjects of PA. We will also try to develop rapid blood tests that can be used to tailor treatment for each individual patient with PA in order to improve the safety and efficacy of such treatment.
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