New Study Launched to Explore Potential Treatments for Food Allergies

The Natasha’s Allergy Research Foundation has set up a £2.2m clinical trial aiming to improve treatment of allergies. 

The study will examine whether commonly available peanut and milk products can be used as an alternative to expensive pharmaceutical drugs to ‘desensitise’ patients with allergies. If successful, it could make life easier for people with food allergies. 

Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse’s 15-year-old daughter Natasha died in 2016 after she suffered an allergic reaction to a baguette that contained sesame. Following this tragedy, the couple set up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation and successfully campaigned for the introduction of Natasha’s Law. In effect since October 2021, this legislation requires all ingredients and allergens to be listed on food made on-site and pre-packed for direct sale. The Ednan-Laperouses have since both been awarded OBEs for their services to charity and people with allergies. 

This is the first major study funded by the Foundation, led by researchers at the University of Southampton partnering with Imperial College London and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Newcastle University and Sheffield Children’s Hospital. It aims to show that everyday foods containing peanut or milk, when taken carefully according to a standardised protocol and under medical supervision, can be used as an alternative to expensive pharmaceutical drugs to desensitise patients. 

It will recruit 216 people between the ages of three and 23 with a food allergy to cow’s milk, and aged between six and 23 with an allergy to peanuts. Following an initial 12 months of desensitisation — under medical supervision — participants will be monitored for a further two years. 

Because the trial will use everyday foods, it has the potential to create a new and affordable branch of treatment for millions of people worldwide living with allergies, at a fraction of the cost. 

The trial will be funded by a gift to the University of Southampton from The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. Natasha’s Foundation has received generous donations and funding from its Research Founding Partners, in addition to donations from Natasha’s Army of supporters. The Research Founding Partners are a consortium of food businesses: Bakkavor, Bidfood, Burger King UK, Cooplands, Co-op Morrisons, Costa Coffee, Elior UK, Greggs, Just Eat, KFC, Leon, Lidl, Pret A Manger, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Uber Eats.

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