Taking a Bite Out of Food Allergies
Our center is always thinking of what the food allergy community will need ten years from now and what will be the next need after that. We have over 25 trials addressing different stages of the food allergy journey from secondary prevention in babies with eczema to therapy in food allergic children and adults.The goal of all of our treatment trials is to desensitize patients to be “bite safe” from having an anaphylactic reaction due to an accidental ingestion and work with families to incorporate these foods into their diets. While we are focused on treating food allergies, our treatments consider the allergic person as a whole, including allergic disorders like asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema.
What’s unique about clinical trials?
The clinical trials at Stanford offer anyone who qualifies an opportunity to have their food allergies treated by the most brilliant minds in the field, using cutting edge research in a top-notch hospital-based facility. The safety is exceptional, offering participants the chance to contribute to improving the lives of the entire community.
Safety is one of the top advantages of choosing a Stanford clinical trial over treatment in private practice. Our research unit is right in the hospital. Our trials are designed to maximize patient safety by regularly evaluating if the treatment is still safe or if it needs to be tweaked, for example if there are seasonal changes like a spike in pollen. It’s probably the safest place you could undergo treatment for your food allergy.
Is there a cost?
Our trials are free, and you don’t need to have insurance either. Some of the trials even offer gift cards for participation. Our center offers equal opportunity to all people with allergies, so long as they are eligible for the study parameters. The age requirements depend on the study but run from 0-90 years old.
Time Well Spent
At the start of the clinical trial, the appointments are about eight hours because food challenges are involved. Those appointments include an observation window for patient safety, which is our top priority. Depending on the trial, the remaining visits are every two weeks or once a month, lasting only an hour or two. Clinical trials are usually a year long. We have also added follow-up visits based on participant feedback. It gives us the opportunity to see how you’re doing with introducing and keeping the food in your diet safely.
We Are Parents Too
Our facility is beautiful! All of our trials are at Stanford’s El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, California. We have wifi so parents and children can be online for work or school. We also have movies, games, and other options to keep families entertained.
No Placebo Effect
One myth about clinical trials is that there is always a placebo arm of the study. In most of our clinical trials, each arm is testing some therapy. That means if you’re in a clinical trial, you have the opportunity to receive treatment.
What about people with multiple allergies?
Unlike some private clinics, we aren’t just treating peanut allergy alone but can tackle multiple allergies at the same time.
Challenging the Food Challenge
Food challenges are part of the screening process to be eligible for our clinical trials. By participating, you’re actually contributing to the legacy of eliminating food challenges down the road. We hope to develop a test that can say you’re allergic to something and with small amounts will have a severe reaction. That information will give us the best approach to treating your allergy. Throughout our trials, we collect samples looking for signals in the blood that we can see in hindsight, knowing how the food challenge went. We aim to be able to conduct tests from droplets, not vials, of blood to improve diagnostics.
By the time food allergy immunotherapy (or desensitization) becomes widely available, we hope to be able to customize the maintenance phase. Desensitization is a process where we change your immune system by feeding you tiny bits of food, increasing it over time. Most people need to continue to eat that food regularly, often daily. We want to be able tell you exactly how often you need to eat an allergen to maintain desensitization.
Can I still join a trial if I’ve had OIT or SLIT?
Previous allergy treatments don’t make you ineligible. If you’ve been on OIT or SLIT before, you can still be in a trial.
How has the pandemic impacted the center?
As allergists and immunologists, we have been very involved in Covid-19 clinical trials, the vaccines and particularly in understanding the overlap between Covid-19 and asthma and food allergies. We have been conducting a vaccine study with the NIH to unpack who is the at-risk population beyond those with known allergies to components of the vaccine. We also have an ongoing study about how the immune system affects people with long symptoms and we will hopefully be able to answer some of these questions soon. We are so grateful to our institute for supporting us in doing research that is important to our patients—it really speaks to the vision of our leadership.
Should people with food allergies get a Covid-19 vaccine?
Everyone who has the opportunity to get a vaccine should get vaccinated unless they have a known allergy to the components of the vaccine. That would be the only reason to hold out for one vaccine over another, if you have a history of reacting to the components of a particular vaccine.
Tips for getting the vaccine?
Take all your medications, bring your usual medication pack and hydrate. If you are worried, you can also make sure you have a longer observation period afterwards. We have a vaccine trial for our food allergy patients, where we closely monitor you after the vaccine – please contact us if you are interested.
The Power of the Community
There are so many next-generation drugs in the pipeline. It’s critical for the food allergic community to keep speaking up and sharing how this disease impacts your lives and what your needs are. It calls attention to the need for more therapies, brings in funding and the brilliant scientists thinking outside of the box to improve your lives. Big pharma companies are getting interested in the food allergy space, which is huge because they bring in the money for large clinical trials, speeding up the discovery pipeline. Ultimately, we share your hope that 10 or 20 years down the road we will be able to cure food allergies entirely.
How can we learn more?
We have free monthly educational webinars hosted by our experts here at the Sean Parker Center. They cover a range of topics about the latest research and news and what’s in the pipeline for the treatment of food allergies.
You can sign up for our registry to participate in our research and be considered for one of our trials online.
For more information, call: (650) 521-7237 and/or email: [email protected]