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Asthma drug aids simultaneous desensitization to several food allergies, study finds

"An asthma drug accelerates the process of desensitizing patients with food allergies to several foods at the same time, a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford shows."

Oral immunotherapy (OIT) of food allergens desensitizes patients by building up a tolerance for the allergen after ingesting it in tiny, gradually increasing doses until the patient can tolerate it without an allergic reaction. It can be a very long process and is done under a doctor's supervision in a hospital setting. OIT is not a common practice in allergy clinics as it is still being researched and investigated, and the risks need to be carefully weighed with the benefits. OIT to one food allergen can take as long as three years to complete.
A new study has found hope for those who suffer multiple food allergies.  


Stanford researchers paired the asthma drug omalizumab (brand name Xolair) with oral immunotherapy to several food allergens at once and found patients became desensitized at a median of 18 weeks vs 85 weeks for patients without the drug.

They also found a "bystander effect" in some patients who desensitized to related allergens that were not included in their immunotherapy (e.g. desensitized to walnut, but were only receiving OIT for pecans).

Dr. Kari Nadeau, associate professor of pediatrics and immunologist at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital is the senior author of the study.



Stanford University Medical Center. (2014, February 28). Asthma drug aids simultaneous desensitization to several food allergies, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2014 from

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I understand that Xolair is experimental for children with food allergies and only for kids 12 and up. But it is my understanding that OIT and SLIT is being done in regular clinic settings and not just in clinical trials. Is the any hospital/ clinic in the country that is doing OIT or SLIT for children with fish allergies? I have seen it only for nuts, milk and eggs. 

Thanks for any information you have. 


Hi A-Ma,

This type of treatment is still undergoing research studies and is not being performed in allergy clinics across the country yet.

The drug described in this study is actually an injectable medicine for asthma that has not been proven/approved for use in other allergic diseases yet. It is currently only approved for use in children over age 12.

The concerns you mentioned about side effects and how it may affect the child are all great questions that will be investigated as the studies continue.

Thank you for sharing your comments!

Kids With Food Allergies

I imagine this post will be shared with many relatives and friends. Thank you for posting the most recent research here! (my first question was, "does this mean people should run out and try this combined therapy?" and my second was, "Hmm. I have a small child and I wonder what the side effects of this drug would be on her physical, neurological, and hormonal development if she did this.."

Thanks again for all your work here, I absolutely love and trust this site!

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