Trial offers hope to kids with egg allergies
Kids could "switch off" life-threatening egg allergies thanks to a treatment being trialled by Melbourne researchers.
The Murdoch Children's Research Institute immunotherapy program for egg allergies mirrors their life-changing 2015 peanut trial. Children with peanut allergies were given a probiotic with peanut protein in increasing amounts over 18 months.
Four years later, up to eighty per cent of children in the trial are able to safely eat peanuts.
"They are eating peanuts as if they don't have a peanut allergy. We call it being in remission," lead researcher Professor Mimi Tang said.
"We're now hoping to do the same for egg allergies. We are hoping to switch off the allergy. We don't know if it's going to work but it could be very exciting."
"Egg is such a common ingredient and it's in so many foods and kids have such a difficult time avoiding it," she said. "
Accidental ingestion is common, causing frequent and sometimes life-threatening reactions."
Antoinette Barallon's daughter Sarah, 10, has a severe peanut allergy and was involved in the MCRI peanut trial. "She's not cured but she eats peanuts regularly. It's weird watching her eat nuts but she now has no problem with them," Ms Barallon said.
Her son Jamie, 9, who has a severe egg allergy, will be part of the upcoming clinical trial. "We're so used to it and our lifestyle is based around his allergy," she said. "But it's hard because egg is in such a lot of foods."
She said it was "phenomenal and groundbreaking research that's changed so many lives".
"It's not a cure but it's a step closer to freedom."
Ms Barallon said she wanted Jamie to "travel and eat out with friends when he is older without thinking twice about it".
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in childhood, affecting almost 9 per cent of babies in Australia and up to 2.5 per cent of children worldwide.
Professor Tang said if they could "show that the probiotic food immunotherapy approach is effective in treating egg allergies as well, this will mean that we could perhaps extend treatment to other food allergies".
This could include tree nuts such as almonds and pine nuts and milk.
Researchers need 80 children aged 5-17 with egg allergies.
Originally published as Melbourne trial offers hope to kids with egg allergies