Preventing allergies and asthma

No effective or practical ways currently exist for preventing allergy and asthma. We’re studying the developing immune system in young children to plug knowledge gaps, working towards predicting and prevent development of allergy and asthma.  

Key investigator: Prof Hasan Arshad

Key projects

  • Allergies and asthma arise when the immune system learns to treat a harmless substance as a threat, triggering a response that can cause lung inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Preventing this association, or diagnosing and managing it as early as possible, requires us to predict those most at risk.
  • Having assessed children for signs of developing allergies and asthma from birth to three years old, we are using this information to identify markers for early diagnosis.
  • The MAPS study was a first-in-field demonstration of the feasibility of sublingual immunotherapy to prevent dust mite allergy in at risk children, where small doses of allergen extract are administered under the tongue to build tolerance.
  • We have investigated correlation between asthma in five year olds (the earliest age asthma can be detected) and the pattern of epigenetic marks on cord blood DNA collected just after their birth.