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PHOTO CREDIT

Overcoming

Allergies

3

Her daughter has a terrible allergy

and ingesting even a small amount of

it could lead to an EpiPen stick and a

trip to the emergency room. They’re

kindergartners–there is potential for

accidental exposure.

“Currently, there are no cures for

food allergies,” says Stephanie Leonard,

MD, an allergist and immunologist at

Rady Children’s and assistant clinical

professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego.

“Management involves avoiding the food

you are allergic to and being prepared to

treat accidental ingestions and reactions

with emergency medications.”

The Food Allergy Center at Rady Chil-

dren’s promotes research to find better solutions. Their key focus is

immunotherapies that prevent reactions or decrease their severity.

There are two approaches: In epicutaneous immunotherapy, kids

wear a patch with small pieces of allergen. Oral immunotherapy

slowly introduces the problem food, starting at very low doses, to

desensitize the immune system.

“We have found that we can desensitize the majority of peanut-

allergic patients using oral immunotherapy,” Dr. Leonard says.

“What surprised us was that many patients do not react after eat-

ing up to three times the daily immunotherapy dose. The patch has

also shown promising results in patients between ages 4 and 11.

The majority of patients tolerated at least 10 times more than they

did at the beginning of the study.”

Unfortunately, not all patients respond well to oral immunother-

apy. Most experience mild symptoms, and some face chronic issues

and must stop this approach. Leonard urges caution for do-it-your-

selfers. “We do not recommend families try

this type of therapy at home without physi-

cian supervision, because severe reactions

have been reported.”

Both types of immunotherapy have been

fast-tracked by the FDA. Dr. Leonard hopes a

peanut allergy patch will be available in the

next few years. Standardized oral immuno-

therapy could take as many as 10.

It’s back-to-

school night.

A mom holds

up a jar of

sunflower seed

butter and asks

(pleads) for the

other parents

to switch from

peanut butter.

Cancer is a moving target. As

tumors grow, they get more

complex and their genetic muta-

tions become more pronounced.

Each patient’s tumor can have its

own unique set of mutations, and

clinicians and researchers are

adopting different strategies to

understand them. One is to take

tissue from surgically removed

tumors and grow them in the lab.

By tracking the tumor’s develop-

ment, they can be better prepared

if the patient’s cancer comes back.

“We’re taking those patients

who are at high risk for relapse

and doing cutting-edge molecu-

lar biology, genetic studies and

drug screening for that day

when the tumor recurs,” says

John Crawford, MD, MS, who

directs neuro-oncology at Rady

Children’s and pediatric neuro-

oncology at UC San Diego.

They also are sequencing

tumors to learn which mutations

are driving growth, drug resis-

tance and other factors.

“We’re moving toward genomic

sequencing for every brain tumor

patient,” Dr. Crawford says. “We want

to identify the driving mutations and

develop an appropriate treatment

plan based on that information.”

Responding to

BRAIN

TUMORS

20

Healthy Kids Magazine

//

Winter 2018

4