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Leicester to host Natasha clinical trial, offering hope that “everyday foods” could be used to treat people with food allergies


  • Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s parents announce first Natasha Clinical Trial in mission to Make Allergy History
  • Children and young people with milk and peanut allergies to be recruited for £2.2m oral immunotherapy trial
  • Everyday foods could provide treatment and save NHS from millions spent on pharmaceutical drugs


A new ground-breaking study is due to investigate whether commonly available peanut and milk products taken under medical supervision could be used as a treatment for people living with food allergies.

The three-year oral immunotherapy (OIT) trial will be the first major study funded by The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, the charity set up by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who died aged 15 from a severe food allergic reaction.

It aims to show that everyday foods containing peanut or milk, which are taken carefully according to a standardised protocol under medical supervision, can be used as an alternative to expensive pharmaceutical drugs to desensitise patients.

If successful, participants with persistent food allergy will be enabled to live lives where they no longer have to avoid popular foods which might contain small amounts of allergens due to production, and also be able to eat popular foods like cakes, curries and pizza with their friends.

The £2.2m trial is being funded by a gift to the University of Southampton from The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. Natasha’s Foundation has received generous donations from its Research Founding Partners and fundraising and donations from Natasha’s Army of supporters.

The trial will be led by researchers at the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, partnering with Imperial College London (both World Allergy Organisation Centres of Excellence). Newcastle University and Sheffield Children’s Hospital join Leicester’s Hospitals as the other sites.

A pharmaceutical immunotherapy treatment for peanut is currently available and is taken daily for at least two years to treat children with peanut allergy.

In contrast, the first “Natasha Clinical Trial” will use “everyday foods” instead of pharmaceutical treatments for OIT. This could open up potential life-long treatment for hundreds of thousands of people living with allergies, at a fraction of the cost to the NHS.

The study will recruit a total of 216 people between the ages of three and 23 with food allergy to cow’s milk and aged six and 23 with food allergy to peanut.

Following an initial 12 months of desensitisation (carried out according to a standardised protocol under strict medical supervision), participants will be monitored for a further two years in order to report on longer-term safety and cost-effectiveness.

The aim is to bring the level of evidence to a point where OIT using commercially available foods could be approved for use in the NHS to treat food-allergic patients most at risk of anaphylaxis.

Natasha’s parents Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, who were both awarded OBEs this year for their services to charity and people with allergies, officially announced the trial today.

Tanya said: “We have been determined that Natasha’s death should not be in vain. Following the successful implementation of Natasha’s Law, which has brought new ingredient and allergen labelling, we are delighted to announce the first Natasha Clinical Trial.”

Nadim said: “This is a major first step in our mission to make food allergies history. The aim is to save lives and prevent serious hospitalisations by offering lifelong protection against severe allergic reactions to foods. We are delighted that a consortium of food businesses are supporting our work with donations that will help fund this study.

“The study aims to plug the current oral immunotherapy research gap by proving that everyday foods can be used as a practical treatment for children and young adults with allergies at a fraction of the cost to the NHS.

“If successful, this will empower the NHS to provide cost-effective treatments for people living with food allergies through oral immunotherapy. It would enable people, once desensitised under clinical supervision, to control their own lives and stay allergy safe using shop bought foods rather than expensive pharmaceutical products.”

Professor Hasan Arshad, Professor of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Southampton, said: “This project presents a unique opportunity to establish immunotherapy as a practical treatment that will allow people with food allergies to live a normal life. I am immensely proud that the University of Southampton will be leading this trial in collaboration with an elite group of partner universities and clinical allergy centres.”

Dr Gary Stiefel, a paediatric allergy consultant, will lead the study at Leicester’s Hospitals. He said: “We are delighted to soon be able to offer this study in Leicester. We hope that the outcomes of this important research will herald a new era for the active treatment of food allergy. Currently, patients and their families are encouraged to avoid certain foods, which can reduce quality of life, and sadly do not prevent accidental contaminants from having a big impact should patients come into contact with them. It really is a very exciting prospect that we could find an affordable alternative solution for people with food allergies.”


The Research Founding Partners are a consortium of food businesses: Greggs, Tesco, Just Eat, Co-op, Morrisons, KFC, Bakkavor, Sainsbury’s, Bidfood, Costa Coffee, Elior UK, Burger King®, Pret A Manger, Lidl, Leon, Cooplands, Uber Eats.

For more details about the trial, and for details of how to express an interest in joining the Natasha Clinical Trial, go to www.narf.org.uk/the-natasha-clinicaltrial

Rachael Dowling, head of research communications, researchcomm@uhl-tr.nhs.uk