Greetings from the Center for Allergy at Yitzhak Shamir (Assaf Harofeh) Medical Center. As I write this update, we are in the midst of the holiday season, here in Israel. In just a few days, we will begin the holiday of Sukkot which traditionally involves get-togethers of family and friends outside in specially-built huts (as an aside-the weather is often beautiful this time of year!) While looking forward to the holiday, we are mindful of our patients and their families for whom occasions like Sukkot can add stress, with the need for extra vigilance in avoiding potential life-threatening allergen exposures while visiting others. Our work continues in improving treatment for food allergies, so that patients can fully enjoy the holiday season.
Two research items to report in this update, related to oral immunotherapy (OIT) treatment of food allergy: Firstly, as we have described in previous updates, many of our patients suffer from multiple food allergies. Upon embarking on OIT for these patients, a decision needs to made regarding the order of allergy treatment. Certain co-allergies such as walnut and pecan, are strongly associated. And in fact, we previously found that for patients allergic to both, walnut OIT was able to also successfully treat pecan allergy. We have recently started to examine other forms of treenut co-allergy with less strong correlation (for example walnut and cashew allergies), with a goal of determining an order of preference for OIT treatment. We have designed laboratory tests related to patient serum binding to allergenic foods, which we anticipate can address this question. Preliminary results indicate that while OIT treatment preferential order, may vary between patients, our lab testing may be utseful in directing the decision of treament order. We hope that in a future report we can flesh this out further.
Secondly, we are pleased to announce that together with our collaborators at the Bar-Ilan University Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, we have been awarded a grant from the Israel Science Foundation! The grant is to study the gut microbiomes (micro-organism populations) of patients undergoing walnut OIT, through the course of their treatment. Of particular focus will be to examine the roles that the dynamic microbiomes play in modifying the immune responses related to food allergy. We anticipate that this study may reveal potential modalities for improving OIT treatment. We are excited to embark on this study, and recognize that our successful proposal was greatly enhanced by the preliminary data we included. Generation of these data is assisted by funding provided by our supporters like you, and so we are very grateful. There are several other projects in our research pipeline that may be candidates for grant funding. Your continued support will facilitate our work to make this a reality. Thank you once again for your ongoing support and partnership!