Childhood Food Allergy Research

Peanut Specific Antibody Diversity and Affinity During Peanut Oral Immunotherapy: for Therapy Monitoring and as Predictive Tool.

University of New South Wales, NSW
Awarded 2019
Co-funded by Rotary Club of Kew, Jill & John Forsyth

“From a young age I have had a keen interest in science and research and hoped to make an impact with my own research one day.    Being born and raised in Myanmar, where food safety standards are still lacking, has particularly contributed to my passion in food safety.”

Researcher Profile

I was born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar. In 2011, at the age of 16, I received a fully-funded government scholarship to undertake my tertiary studies in South Korea. I successfully enrolled at the prestigious Seoul National University, where I received a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Food Science and Biotechnology in 2016. After my graduation, I relocated to Cape Town, South Africa where I worked as a food scientist until the end of July 2018.

In August 2018, I relocated to Sydney, Australia upon receiving my permanent residency visa, and I am currently enrolled in a doctorate program at UNSW.

Project Summary

Peanut allergy is the most common form of persistent food allergy, yet no cure has been found to date. Studies have shown that the highest worldwide prevalence of peanut allergy in children has been reported to be in Australia. Despite the high prevalence of peanut allergy, as well as years of studies conducted on the subject, there are currently no proper long-term treatments or preventive measures for peanut allergy, unless total-avoidance in the diet is practiced.

Recent study outcomes have shown that allergen-specific immunotherapy – specifically oral immunotherapy (OIT) – has shown to be a promising approach to tackle established peanut allergy. However, studies to date have shown that use of standard allergen extracts or native foods have failed to generate high rates of long-term tolerance following the cessation of OIT and have had unpredictable side-effects, which has hindered the application of OIT into clinical practice. This project aims to provide long-term solutions for patients with peanut allergy by understanding the specific mechanisms of action of OIT and the ability to predict responses to therapy.

This research will extensively study the activities of two antibodies (i.e., IgE and IgG4) which have shown to be pivotal in peanut allergy-specific OIT studies and will be monitored during the course of immunotherapy as well as following the cessation of immunotherapy in individuals developing desensitisation, as well as tolerance induction. This project will also investigate the plasma oxidative stress as a potential biomarker for an OIT outcome predictor.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Alice Lee & Professor Dianne Campbell