Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) is currently recruiting young participants for a trial to explore whether slowly introducing egg proteins into a child’s diet with a probiotic could put their allergy into remission. Eighty children and adolescents aged five to 17 years who are allergic to hen’s egg are being asked to sign up.
The egg study is based on a similar immunotherapy treatment which has shown long-lasting effects against peanut allergy. Back in 2015, young people with peanut allergy were given a daily dose of probiotic together with peanut protein in increasing amounts for 18 months. More than 80 per cent of children who received the treatment were able to tolerate peanuts at the end of the trial and the majority were still tolerating peanut four years later.
Egg allergy is one of the most common childhood food allergies, affecting almost 9 per cent of babies in Australia and up to 2.5 per cent of children worldwide. It was previously thought that most children with egg allergy would develop tolerance by school age, but recent studies show that egg allergy can persist in a significant number of children until adolescence.
For the new study, dubbed the ‘PEAT trial’ (derived from the study name Probiotic Egg Allergen oral immunotherapy for Treatment of egg allergy), the participants will be randomly allocated into one of two groups. Half will go into an active group to receive probiotic and egg oral immunotherapy and half will go into a placebo group. At home, the child will take a dose of probiotic (or placebo) and a dose of egg powder (or placebo) once a day for a total of 18 months.
If the approach is effective, it could be adapted to treat other food allergies beyond peanut and egg.
For more information visit the MCRI website.