Allergies: Cured or Controlled in a DecadeDr. Adelle Atkinson is a mother of a son with a food allergy severe enough that he carries an auto-injector in case of anaphylaxis. She’s also a Clinical Immunologist in the Division of Immunology and Allergy at SickKids. So the stated goal of the Allergy Program here at the Hospital – to prevent and ultimately cure food allergy in kids in the next ten years – is one that resonates personally.
Recent developments in the study of allergy, both inside and outside SickKids, suggest SickKids’ goal is achievable. Dr. Atkinson is particularly excited about the results of the LEAP study, announced last year. (‘LEAP’ stands for ‘Learning Early About Peanut’.) The study, led by Professor Gideon Lack at King’s College, London was designed to definitively answer the question: “Which approach – avoidance or consumption – works best to prevent peanut allergy?” 640 participants between four and 11 months of age, identified as high-risk for peanut allergy, were selected to be part of a randomized control trial. The ‘consumption’ group ate peanut protein three times a week, while the ‘avoidance’ group did not ingest peanut-containing foods. The children were followed until they were five.