Department of Allergy and Immunology

Group leader

  • Dr Alyson Kakakios

Overview

The Department has two streams of research. The first relates to food allergy in children. The study of rare immunodeficiencies and T cell signalling is also conducted within the department.

Allergic disorders, such as food allergies, asthma and atopic dermatitis, have increased dramatically over the past 20 years with over 30% of Australian children having some form of atopic disease. The Department's research focus is on understanding how to prevent allergic diseases from developing, and managing them more effectively both at the individual and population based level.

Primary immunodeficiency disorders, whilst rare, require sophisticated investigative techniques for diagnosis and intensive clinical management including immunoglobulin therapy and bone marrow transplantation.

Research achievements

The Department has published widely on food allergy and tolerance mechanisms over the past year.

It has conducted and published evidence of increasing food allergy presentations to the emergency department and increasing rates of food anaphylaxis. Another study supports the role for small amounts of egg incorporation in the diet of egg allergic children and subsequent outgrowing egg allergy.

The study of Food protein Induced Enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES) – a rare non IgE food allergy disorder – has continued. Dr Alyson Kakakios continues her involvement in the Early Prevention of Asthma in Atopic Children (EPAAC Study Group), which has published this year on worldwide variation in IgE sensitization in children.

The Childhood Asthma Prevention study (CAPS) cohort continues to be examined. Parental compliance with allergy primary prevention interventions has been studied and results published in 2008.

Dr Melanie Wong has continued the study of the STAT proteins T cell signaling pathways in health and disease.