The research program of Drs. Manel Jordana and Susan Waserman aims at providing better diagnosis, management and treatment of food allergy, especially peanut allergy. The program encompasses two distinct but complementary components: a clinical and a preclinical arm.
The Clinical Arm
The clinical arm, directed by Dr. Susan Waserman, is focused on research to better diagnose, manage and treat food allergy, especially peanut allergy. We have recently completed two clinical trials in peanut allergic children. The first one is a desensitization study (exposure to escalating doses of peanut) in the presence or absence of H1 and H2 blocking medication. The second study investigates peanut threshold reactivity. Knowledge of peanut thresholds should provide a possible safe level of peanut exposure for over 90% of peanut allergic individuals. This may inform future food labeling, rather than “may contain” which is the current practice. These clinical studies are designed as DBPCFC (double blind placebo controlled food challenges), a procedure that requires dedicated infrastructure and logistics. We have the expertise and capability to perform such challenges in a controlled and safe manner.
The Preclinical Arm
The preclinical arm, directed by Dr. Manel Jordana, is interested in three main issues: a) the ontogeny of peanut allergy, b) the molecular basis of peanut-induced anaphylaxis and c) uncovering the basic mechanisms underlying peanut allergy persistence. Currently, major areas of emphasis are to understand the mechanisms that lead to the emergence of allergen-specific IgE+ cells and the regulation of allergen-induced memory responses. We use experimental models of peanut allergy in wild type and genetically-modified mice, flow cytometry, and other immunological and molecular methods to address these questions. We have now begun translating our basic research into humanized systems as well as directly into humans, in part through collaborations with Dr. Wayne Shreffler at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. William Kwok at the Benaroya Research Institute in Seattle. The ultimate aim of our research is to disable the machinery that mediates the generation of IgE-producing cells.
Collectively, the Jordana-Waserman research program strives for a seamless translation between basic discovery and clinical translation.