Oral immunotherapy shows promise as treatment for children with egg allergy

July 18, 2012

A team of researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and four other institutions have found that young children with egg allergies can benefit from treatment with oral immunotherapy.

The study titled, "Oral Immunotherapy for Treatment of in Children," appears online in the on Wednesday, July 19.

In a multi-center, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 55 children with egg allergy, between 5 and 11 years old, 40 children received an egg-white powder as daily oral immunotherapy and 15 children received a cornstarch powder placebo over a 24 month period. Fifty-five children participated in a , which is a test where a person with gradually consumes increasing amounts of the allergenic food under in order to determine at what level the person experiences allergenic symptoms.

Children who successfully passed the food challenge at 22 months, without having an allergic reaction, discontinued oral immunotherapy and avoided all egg consumption for four to six weeks. At 24 months, these children underwent an oral food challenge with egg-white powder and a cooked egg to test if they had developed tolerance to egg. Children who passed this challenge were placed on a diet with egg consumption and were evaluated again at 30 and 36 months.

"After 10 months of therapy, 55 percent of those who received oral immunotherapy passed the oral food challenge and were considered to be desensitized, compared to none of those on placebo," said Scott Sicherer, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "After 22 months, 75 percent of children in the oral-immunotherapy group were desensitized, meaning with their daily dose they could ingest much more egg than before."

In the oral-immunotherapy group, 28 percent of the children passed the oral food challenge at 24 months after being off daily therapy for 4 to 6 weeks and were considered to no longer have an allergy to egg. At 30 months and 36 months, all children who had passed the oral food challenge at 24 months were consuming egg.

"We found that oral immunotherapy provides protection in a majority of children with egg allergy by raising the reaction threshold," said Hugh Sampson, MD, Dean for Translational Biomedical Sciences, Professor of Pediatrics, and Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "It represents a promising therapeutic intervention for food allergy and the approach is relatively safe, with most of the reactions to dosing categorized as mild."

Approximately 15 percent of the who received oral immunotherapy did not complete the therapy due to significant clinical reactions. The mechanisms underlying the success of oral immunotherapy and their relationship to natural immune tolerance are unknown.

"For oral immunotherapy to be recommended as a standard of care, it will be important to better define the risks of oral immunotherapy versus avoiding the food the child is allergic to, and determine the correct dosing regimens with the most favorable outcomes," said Dr. Sampson. "It is also important to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from oral , and develop strategies that promote long-term tolerance."

Explore further: Children restricting diets based on incomplete allergy information

More information: Burks AW et al. Oral immunotherapy for treatment of egg allergy in children. New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200435 (2012).

Related Stories

Children restricting diets based on incomplete allergy information

April 14, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- Many children, especially those with eczema, are unnecessarily avoiding foods based on incomplete information about potential food allergies, according to researchers at National Jewish Health. The food avoidance ...

Foods with baked milk may help build tolerance in children with dairy allergies

July 1, 2011
Introducing increasing amounts of foods that contain baked milk into the diets of children who have milk allergies helped a majority of them outgrow their allergies, according to a study conducted at Mount Sinai School of ...

Recommended for you

Australian researchers in peanut allergy breakthrough

August 17, 2017
Australian researchers have reported a major breakthrough in the relief of deadly peanut allergy with the discovery of a long-lasting treatment they say offers hope that a cure will soon be possible.

Genetic variants found to play key role in human immune system

August 16, 2017
It is widely recognized that people respond differently to infections. This can partially be explained by genetics, shows a new study published today in Nature Communications by an international collaboration of researchers ...

Study identifies a new way to prevent a deadly fungal infection spreading to the brain

August 16, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered a way to stop a deadly fungus from 'hijacking' the body's immune system and spreading to the brain.

Biophysics explains how immune cells kill bacteria

August 16, 2017
(Tokyo, August 16) A new data analysis technique, moving subtrajectory analysis, designed by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, defines the dynamics and kinetics of key molecules in the immune response to an infection. ...

How a nutrient, glutamine, can control gene programs in cells

August 15, 2017
The 200 different types of cells in the body all start with the same DNA genome. To differentiate into families of bone cells, muscle cells, blood cells, neurons and the rest, differing gene programs have to be turned on ...

Scientists identify gene that controls immune response to chronic viral infections

August 15, 2017
For nearly 20 years, Tatyana Golovkina, PhD, a microbiologist, geneticist and immunologist at the University of Chicago, has been working on a particularly thorny problem: Why are some people and animals able to fend off ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.