Parents of girl who died eating Pret launch trial to end all food allergies

Millions of people could no longer have to avoid certain foods as a ground-breaking clinical trial is set up in a bid to ‘make food allergies history’.

Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, whose daughter Natasha, 15, died after suffering a severe allergic reaction to a Pret baguette, have launched the £2.2 million study.

Led by the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Southampton, it will investigate whether commonly available peanut and milk products can be used as a treatment.

Natasha begged her dad to help her as she went into anaphylactic shock on a British Airways flight and suffered multiple cardiac arrests.

They had checked the label but a loophole at the time meant companies were not required to provide a full list of allergens on products made in their stores.

Her parents changed this by campaigning for Natasha’s Law – and say they will continue fighting to make sure their daughter ‘didn’t die in vain’.

Experts behind the three-year, oral immunotherapy (OIT) trial hope to show that people with food allergies may no longer have to avoid foods with small amounts of allergens due to production.

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Ideally, they would be able to ‘control their own lives and eat popular foods like cakes, curries and pizza with no problem.

The treatment would ‘empower the NHS to provide cost-effective treatments for people living with food allergies through oral immunotherapy’ at a ‘fraction’ of the current cost.

There are 216 people taking part in the trial – some with allergies to cow’s milk and others with allergies to peanuts.

Under strict medical supervision, they will be subject to a year of desensitisation, before they are tracked for two more years to provide longer term data.

It comes after the NHS threw support behind Palforzia, a monthly treatment designed to reduce the severity of reactions to peanuts, including anaphylaxis.

The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation is also partnering with Imperial College London, the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Newcastle University and Sheffield Children’s Hospital on the study.

Top food businesses including Tesco, Just Eat and KFC have ensured that it is able to go ahead by donating money.

Mr Ednan-Laperouse 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.’

Co-chief investigator Dr Paul Turner, reader in paediatric allergy and clinical immunology at Imperial College London, said the study ‘heralds a new era for the active treatment of food allergy’.

‘For too long, we have told people just to avoid the food they are allergic to’, he said.

‘That is not a treatment, and food-allergic people and their families deserve better.’

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