Food Allergy

Background of our Food Allergy Research

We developed a new diagnostic test to accurately diagnose peanut allergy with 100 per cent sensitivity and 96.1 per cent specificity without the need for an oral food challenge; previous blood or skin tests resulted in  many  false positives. This has become the new clinical gold standard, and cited by the Academy of Medical Sciences as an example of clinical academic research having a substantial impact on the health and wealth of the UK.

Through the EuroPrevall project we have developed a blinded standardised material for oral food challenges, considered to be the “gold standard” of food allergy diagnosis. This is being used to determine the efficacy of new treatments in industry-funded multi-centre clinical trials (Europe, UK, USA, Canada), and for delivery of oral immunotherapy in Phase 1 trials (Berlin, Cambridge).

Key questions

We are seeking to discover:

  • Why certain people become allergic and not others?
  • What makes certain types of foods, like peanut, so much more problematic for food allergy than related foods like peas? 
  • Why are some protein molecules become allergens and not others and how are they affected by the way we cook our food?

Goals

The new knowledge we will gain will allow us to develop improved ways of diagnosing, treating and preventing food allergies. We will focus our research on peanut, a food which causes allergies in at least 2% of school age children in the UK.  We will realise this goal though our discovery platform in food allergy, which integrates clinical infrastructure with fundamental science in animal models/cellular immunology and biochemistry/biophysics of allergens.