The Country Range Group is a proud partner of The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, the UK’s food allergy charity, and supports the Foundation in its mission to Make Allergy History. With our backing, The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation is funding a pioneering clinical trial that may allow children and young people with food allergies to live without the fear of a potentially fatal reaction. We are delighted to announce that the Natasha Clinical Trial has released its first update.

Initial results are promising

The Natasha Clinical Trial uses daily doses of everyday food products, taken under strict medical supervision, rather than expensive pharmaceuticals to train the bodies of children and young people to tolerate the foods that cause them a severe allergic reaction. The four key updates are:

  • So far, a total of 139 children, aged 2 to 23 years with food allergy to peanut or cow’s milk, have started treatment on the Natasha Clinical Trial.
  • Early evidence shows children on the Natasha Trial are tolerating milk and peanuts to which they were previously severely allergic.
  • 9 NHS hospitals are taking part in the Natasha Trial, expanded from the original 5.
  • The Natasha Trial is training a network of NHS staff to offer oral immunotherapy treatment (OIT).

Natasha’s parents Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, who have both been awarded OBEs for their services to charity and people with allergies, are delighted with how the trial is progressing.

Tanya said: ‘This is a major first step in our mission to make food allergies history. We look forward to seeing the final results.’ Nadim added: ‘We can’t rely on big pharma and its giant profits to be a game-changer for people living with allergies. That is why we are harnessing the support of the food industry, who have helped fund this trial, to prove that OIT can work with everyday foods, making it more feasible to be available on the NHS.’

Sibel Sonmez-Ajtai, Paediatric Allergy Consultant and Principal Investigator at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, one of the centres involved in the trial, said: ‘This study is enabling us to do something we would never have dreamed of doing before – giving patients the foods we know they are allergic to! This treatment is not a cure for a food allergy, but what it achieves is life transforming. To have a patient who has had anaphylaxis to 4mls of milk to then tolerate 90mls within six to eight months is nothing less than a miracle.’

How the trial works

There are three groups of participants in the trial: children aged 6 to 23 with a peanut allergy, children aged 3 to 23 with a cow’s milk allergy. Children aged two and three with a peanut allergy have recently been added to the trial. In total, 275 children and young people with these food allergies will be recruited to the trial.

Before joining the trial, the children and young people undergo food challenges over two hospital visits to confirm their food allergy diagnosis and make sure they are suitable to have the OIT treatment. Once enrolled, each is given a very small amount of a food to which they are allergic at a dose that is safe for them, which is taken according to a standardised protocol under medical supervision. This may be given either in a hospital clinic or at home with medical support.

If they tolerate the food, they then take a daily ‘dose’ of this real food at home, and the amount is gradually increased by the medical team roughly every two weeks whilst being closely monitored for any adverse effects.

Thomas Farmer, aged 11, who was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy when he was just a year old, can now eat six peanuts a day after joining the trial in Southampton. His mother Lauren said: ‘For Thomas to be able to achieve all this with no medicine – just off the shelf foods – is amazing.

Since joining the Natasha Trial in Newcastle, Grace Fisher, aged 5, who has a milk allergy, is now drinking 120ml milk a day, and will soon be able to eat pizza with her friends. Her mother, Emm, said “Gracie is over six months into this journey and is doing amazingly. She is currently on 120m of milk and loves her daily hot chocolates.”