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May is Asthma and Allergy and Awareness month, and the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research at Stanford has great news to share about its ongoing, donor-supported oral immunotherapy (OIT) trials: 73% of patients feel that their participation (both children and their parents alike) has improved their quality of life. In a long-term follow-up study, researchers contacted 154 patients who had participated in these trials in the last five years and were thrilled to hear that most are still able to eat the food they were allergic to before their treatment.

How Does Oral Immunotherapy Work?

OIT studies are conducted in two stages: In the early stage, each patient is given a consistent low dose of exposure to allergens to build their tolerance. Over time, the treatment gradually builds to its second stage where patients receive a medium to high dose. Once patients reach the highest dose, they maintain it for weeks to years. By taking this slow, gradual approach, most patients become desensitized to the food they were once allergic to.

These therapies are revolutionizing the treatment of kids and adults with multiple food allergies – and they have their roots at Stanford. As early as 2011, Dr. Kari Nadeau and the Sean N. Parker Center began using biologics – drugs derived from living cells – to downregulate the immune system and desensitize patients with multiple food allergies. Today, those treatments are the standard of care for patients with multiple food allergies. (An estimated 30% of food-allergic kids have more than one food allergy.)

Better with Biologics

Leading with a teamwork approach to drive science to a cure is a group whose members include doctors from the Stanford School of Medicine, the UCLA School of Medicine, and the UCSD School of Medicine. Together, they’re running the COMBINE Trial. This study aims to evaluate how two medications – one to get rid of food allergies, and the other to make sure they don’t return – can suppress allergic response in patients with multiple food allergies. The study, which uses Omalizumab in combination with Dupilumab, has generated extraordinarily positive results thus far; even more people may soon be able to use oral immunotherapy to keep their food allergies at bay.

Dr. Nadeau, who directs the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research, is (understandably) excited about the results of these studies and looks forward to what’s next. “It’s really the beginning of the end of allergies. We are at an inflection point. We now have information on how to prevent and to try to cure food allergies.”

What’s Next?

The Sean N. Parker Center has over thirty active allergy studies in progress and continues to make tremendous advances: moving closer to refining dosing strategies; training institutions and centers across the world in their techniques and approach; and revealing the molecular underpinnings of immune response in food allergy and other diseases.

With this work, they are laying the foundation to expand access to these therapies – moving closer to a day in which oral immunotherapies are available to the one billion kids and adults with potentially life-threatening food allergies around the world.


This work is made possible through generous, compassionate supporters. If you would like to make a gift to further advance our work to make food allergies obsolete, please contact Laura Andersen at  

You (or your child) can also get involved by participating in an upcoming research study.

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