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The Natasha Allergy Research FoundationThe Natasha Allergy Research Foundation (NARF) has announced a new three-year, oral immunotherapy (OIT) trial looking into cow's milk allergy and also peanut allergy

It is to be led by the University of Southampton under Professor Hasan Arshad (a former Allergy UK trustee) and co-chief investigator Dr Paul Turner at Imperial College London (a member of Allergy UK's health advisory board). There will be other trial sites around the country including the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Newcastle University and Sheffield Children's Hospital.

The £2.2 million funded trial investigates if taking two key foods (peanut or cow's milk) that are classed as 'everyday foods' on a daily basis, starting with extremely small amounts and building up over time, can 'reprogramme' their immune system so they do not react to trace amounts or foods that maybe cross contaminated with the allergen due to production etc. The trial aims also help find what their tolerance levels are but is not deemed a 'cure' for allergy, although with cow's milk allergy many children grow out of this and it very rarely found in adults.

The study will recruit a total of 216 people between the ages of 3 and 23 with food allergy to cow’s milk and aged 6 and 23 with food allergy to peanut. Following an initial 12 months of desensitisation (carried out according to a standardised protocol under strict medical supervision), participants will be monitored for a further two years in order to report on longer-term safety and cost-effectiveness. To find out more about this research, please visit: https://www.narf.org.uk/the-natasha-clinical-trial.

It is excellent news that that NARF has secured funding to undertake this trial and we wish them every success with this important piece of research. We look forward to seeing the findings.

The recently published LEAP and EAT studies have shown that introduction of allergens into the diet for under 2-year-olds may prevent food allergy from starting and also guided by a dietitian or other knowledgeable clinician, we now have the milk and egg ladder to support with this, which should help reduce food allergies for many children. Clinical advice now is to introduce small amounts as frequently as possible into the diet of a range of foods including egg, fish, smooth peanut/nut butters etc. for pre-2-year-olds that introduced into the diet as early as possible could aid prevention. Most infants grow out of egg and milk allergy but if they do not grow out of these food allergies then current advice is to introduce the "milk ladder" – under supervision, preferably of a dietitian, further guidance can be found in our Cow's Milk Allergy Roadmap.

Allergy to peanuts is usually a life-long food allergy. There is currently only one current treatment available for peanut immunotherapy which has National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) approval and is the only peanut immunotherapy available to under 18-year-olds. A report has been published with data to prove its effectiveness, but this treatment is not yet easily available across the UK.

It is wonderful that food allergy research has had this large amount of funds injected for this trial. It will be interesting to see if positive outcomes from this trial will be translated to the wider food allergic community but we shall have to await until completion to see what these may be.

Whilst we wait for the results of this exciting latest trial on food allergy, those with food allergy need to take advice from their GP and specialist allergy healthcare professionals about access to current treatments.

The NARF trial will be undertaken following strict clinical guidelines and until the results are published, we strongly recommend people living with food allergies should not reintroduce food into their diets unless under the guidance of a specialist healthcare professional.