Allergy

Saving lives, improving health and reducing the cost of allergy

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Overview

Allergy happens when a person reacts to substances, called allergens, in the environment that are harmless to most people. Allergens are found in foods, dust mites, pets, pollens, insects, ticks, moulds, vaccines and medications. Almost 20 percent of the Australian population has a confirmed allergic disease – and the numbers are rising.

A child or an adult with allergy can have symptoms which vary depending on the dose of allergen exposure from mild to potentially life-threatening reactions, called anaphylaxis. There are almost 12,000 hospital admissions and approximately 20 deaths from anaphylaxis in Australia each year. The annual cost of allergies to the Australian economy is more than $7 billion.

Food allergy is a major health problem in Australia—in fact, our rates are the highest in the world. A virtually non-existent problem 30 years ago, yet now affecting 10 percent of infants, four to eight percent of children and two to four percent of adults.

There is no cure for food allergy. Management relies on strict allergen avoidance and the timely administration of rescue medications, such as adrenaline via injection, when accidental exposure happens. For those living with food allergy, there is an ever-present risk of life-threatening reactions and reduced quality of life.

Prevention, management and treatment of allergy and anaphylaxis were identified as critical areas of unmet need by the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis. Families of children living with allergies, their clinical management teams and the wider community echo this mandate to reduce the health, social and economic burden of allergy.

Our Allergy Flagship

Our Flagship research programs aim to increase the translation of clinical research into practice. Driving collaboration, leading research and increasing capacity across the Melbourne Children’s Campus are the cornerstones of this work. Allergy is identified as one of the core flagship areas because of its increasing health and economic burden across the developed world, as well as the breadth of existing expertise in allergy research, particularly in the food allergy domain, across campus.

The MCRI Allergy Flagship represents a multi-disciplinary collaboration among a range of internationally recognised researchers, clinicians, clinical trialists, data analysts and biostatisticians. The Flagship will leverage existing allergy-related cohorts and clinical trials, biobanking, Royal Children’s Hospital, clinical data and sophisticated data analytics expertise to tackle the challenging issues facing children living with allergies, as well as their families and communities.

Ultimately, the Allergy Flagship aims to provide children living with allergic diseases access to the best treatments, underpinned by world-leading research. This work has helped position MCRI as a global leader in the field.

With the MCRI Allergy Flagship, we can accelerate our understanding of the prevention, intervention and management of allergic diseases and have a real-life impact on the debilitating health outcomes and costs of allergy in Australia—and beyond.

 

Core projects

The Allergy Flagship has identified two core projects with current efforts focussing on securing funding to deliver them:

Establishing a Melbourne Children’s Allergy Registry

In an Australian-first, the Flagship aims to develop a comprehensive allergy data platform to deliver high quality research impact and drive rapid change. More information is needed about which treatments work best, when to use them and how patients’ health changes over time. The Melbourne Children’s Allergy Registry would help answer these questions. Tapping into innovative technologies to harmonise MCRI data and biological samples, and with the backing of key stakeholders and consumers, this world-class Allergy Registry can advance population and precision level prevention, early intervention and management of allergy and anaphylaxis. It has the power to revolutionise Australian allergy research and clinical care globally.

Expanding the Melbourne Children’s Allergy Clinical Trials Platform

There is an urgent need for more research into novel allergy therapies and greater access to treatment through participation in clinical trials. The Allergy Flagship oversees 14 trials in progress or imminently starting. Both prevention and treatment clinical trials focus on Allergy Immunology, Population Allergy and Infectious Diseases research. The next step will be to move towards an adaptive allergy trials platform embedded in routine clinical care. This will provide an opportunity for consistent and efficient clinical research, definition of core outcome measures and long-term follow-up. With support from industry partners, it is hoped the platform can provide leadership in establishing a National Allergy Clinical Trial Network.

Members

Associate Professor Kirsten Perrett
Role: Co-Group Leader
Theme: Population Health
Group: Population Allergy
Phone: +61 (3) 9936 6278
Email:  show email address ">[email protected]
Available for Student Supervision

Associate Professor Jennifer Koplin
Role: Co-Group Leader
Theme: Population Health
Group: Population Allergy
Email: 
Available for Student Supervision

Professor Mimi Tang
Role: Group Leader
Theme: Infection and Immunity
Group: Allergy Immunology
Phone: +61 (3) 9345 5911
Email: 
Available for Student Supervision

Professor Katherine Lee
Role: Group Leader
Theme: Population Health
Group: Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (CEBU)
Email: 
Available for Student Supervision

Professor Richard Saffery
Role: Group Leader
Theme: Infection and Immunity
Group: Molecular Immunity
Email: 
Available for Student Supervision

Dr Angela Young
Role: Program Manager
Theme: Population Health
Group: Population Allergy
Email: 


Resources

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Key facts