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Antibody drug may help children with food allergies

Tuesday December 12th, 2017

Giving children with multiple food allergies an antibody drug alongside their food desensitisation treatment seems to offer more relief, researchers report today.

The first phase 2 clinical trial of its kind involved 48 children found that omalizumab may moderate the immune system's response to trigger foods - enabling people with allergies to begin food desensitisation.

Writing in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Dr Sharon Chinthrajah of Stanford University, California, USA, said children aged 4-15 years and had two or more food allergies were enrolled. Thirty-six were given injections of omalizumab, with the remaining 12 having a placebo for 16 weeks.

They began food desensitisation for two to five trigger foods eight weeks into their injections, which lasted until week 36 of the trial.

The researchers found that 83% of the children in the omalizumab group could eat the protein for at least two foods without an allergic reaction, compared with 33% in the placebo group.

When testing the children for three foods, 81% of those in the omalizumab group showed tolerance for their other trigger foods allergens compared with 29% in the placebo group. For four foods, it was 76% in the omalizumab group who passed the food test, while none of the five children in the placebo group did.

"This phase 2 clinical trial shows the potential benefits of using omalizumab to facilitate food desensitisation to multiple trigger foods in a shortened period of time," says Dr Chinthrajah.

"While our results are promising, they are preliminary and suggest that children with multiple food allergies might one day be safely desensitised to their trigger foods using this treatment combination."

The authors say limitations in their study means that more research is needed for a full understanding of how biological medications could improve food immunotherapy.

Andorf S et al. Anti-IgE treatment with oral immunotherapy in multifood allergic participants: a double-blind, randomised, controlled trial. The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology 12 December 2017; doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(17)30392-8 [abstract]

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | North America | Pharmaceuticals

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