Murdoch Children's Research Institute Professor Mimi Tang and her team have been awarded a grant to explore the immune mechanisms underpinning food allergy remission in children.

Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia have announced Professor Tang as the recipient of its $40,000, 2021 Food Allergy Research Grant.

Professor Mimi Tang

Professor Tang said the project aimed to decipher the immune pathways supporting lasting remission of food allergy, which would help develop long-term treatments.

The prevalence of food allergies has increased significantly over the past decade and has now reached epidemic levels in Western countries. Australia has the highest rates of childhood food allergy in the world, with about one in 10 infants and one in 20 children being allergic.

"Food allergy treatments in development have led to tolerance, however, this protection appears to be lost over time in some patients. The immune changes that ultimately determine whether remission is long-lasting or temporary remain unknown," Professor Tang said.

Her team will profile molecular and cellular changes associated with long-lasting versus temporary remission to identify specific changes leading to lifelong tolerance. 

"Immune responses are determined by networks of proteins/genes working together in a coordinated fashion," Professor Tang said.

"Previous studies have focused on selected genes and pathways, generating an oversimplified and incomplete picture of underlying mechanisms. A more holistic and comprehensive picture is needed to decipher the complex immune processes driving remission that persists long-term.

"Our findings will aim to provide vital new knowledge that accelerates the path to finding a long-term treatment for peanut allergy."