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
“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.
A mom holds
up a jar of
butter and asks
(pleads) for the
to switch from
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.”
Healthy Kids Magazine