The parents of a 15-year old who died in 2016 from anaphylaxis have set up a groundbreaking £2.2mn (US$2.7mn) oral immunotherapy trial focusing on children and young people with milk and peanut allergies. The 3-year oral immunotherapy (OIT) trial is the first major study funded by The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, a charity set up by Natasha’s parents. The aim is to prove that everyday foods containing peanut or milk, which when taken carefully according to a standardised protocol under medical supervision, can be used as an alternative to expensive pharmaceuticals to desensitise patients. “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,” said Professor Hasan Arshad from the University of Southampton, which is leading the trial in collaboration with partner universities and clinical allergy centres.
Nicholas Hall’s Touchpoints: Anyone who has attended one of my recent Global Trends presentations will know that I am passionate about “The Future Resumed”, picking up the Infinity Zones from the CHC New Paradigms report I co-wrote in 2019. These are as attractive today as they were then, with just a two-year delay in progress caused by Covid-19. One of the most exciting prospects is what we now call Health through Digestion, a broader category than just gut health, and stimulated by fairly new research proving that probiotics can assist the vital work of the gut-brain axis and deliver benefits to other parts of the human body. Conversely, food allergy and intolerance can have a negative influence on other parts of the body, which is why it is surprising that the CHC market for these conditions is so poorly developed.
When I reach this part in The Future Resumed presentation, I refer to a number of high-profile deaths of mainly young people, such as Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who inadvertently ate unlabelled foods with what for them were toxic substances. These are extreme examples, of course, and most of us will experience very mild side-effects, but let’s not forget that almost every person on this planet has at least one form of food allergy or intolerance.
Preventing or treating this widespread condition divides into three parts:
- Diagnosis, which will tell us the foods and drinks to which we are allergic or intolerant. At the moment this is a clinical procedure, but there is no reason why consumer health products can’t take over and build a very successful early-stage franchise
- Prevention. The second part is to avoid eating the particular foods to which we are intolerant, or if that is impossible to take some form of preventive agent, such as Lactaid (J&J) or Beano (Prestige)
- Treatment. If prevention is not possible – and often it isn’t as we just don’t know what is included in restaurant and fast foods – there will be very high demand for treatment products. Indeed, along with products for sleep and mood, this is the greatest area of unmet consumer demand in CHC
I strongly believe that most of this market will roll out in the consumer sector, but our industry seems shy of investing in the necessary R&D and clinical work and unwilling to build successful brands in what could be a US$10bn market in 10 years’ time.
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