Australian researchers in food allergy breakthroughs

Dr Barry Marshall from the University of Western Australia, a 2005 Nobel Prize recipient, has turned his attention from the bacterial cause of stomach ulcers to creating a new drug to help prevent asthma and food allergies.

According to Dr Marshall, the work arose from research related to helicobacter, the stomach-ulcer causing bacteria, having found the bacteria’s survival depends on its ability to suppress the immune system so the body does not destroy it. The drug being developed is intended as a preventative treatment in a child’s early life when signs of asthma or allergies first appear.

The drug is said to be ready to be manufactured before safety testing could begin on animals and then humans, and it is hoped clinical trials in children will begin in three years.

Meanwhile, researcher Dr Sandip Kamath at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, has been awarded a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council for his work on developing immunotherapy options for shellfish and egg allergens. Allergen immunotherapy can help patients develop tolerance to the allergenic food by modifying the key proteins in the allergen so the immune system no longer reacts to them.

Dr Kamath has identified certain candidates that will now be tested further for safety and efficacy to be used as therapeutic agents to treat allergic diseases.