Allergy & Immunology Research

Food allergies, asthma and atopic dermatitis are allergic disorders that have increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Over 30% of Australian children having some form of atopic disease.

Our clinical and basic science research programs are designed to facilitate translation of research into practice. We want to prevent allergic diseases from developing, and manage them more effectively for children and the community.

Our research is focused in the following areas:
              * food allergy and atopic dermatitis in children
              * rare immunodeficiencies and T cell signalling
              * immune dysregulation

Primary immunodeficiency disorders (PIDs), whilst rare, require sophisticated diangostic techniques and intensive clinical management. Studying PIDs provide us with an opportunity to understand the immune system and how it becomes dysregulated and imbalanced, which leads to immune disorders such as allergies and autoimmunity.

One of our overarching research themes is to understand our innate and adaptive immune system, and how imbalances may be corrected.

Allergy and Immunology Research is led by co-Heads of Department, Prof Dianne Campbell & Dr Melanie Wong.

Current projects

> Defining Regulatory T cell subsets in children in health and disease - CI Dr Peter Hsu

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential for immune tolerance. This study is defining Treg subsets in healthy children and in children with allergy and other immune diseases.

> BEAT: a RCT of early infant feeding for primary prevention of egg allergy - CIs Prof Dianne Campbell, Dr. John Tan

This study is one of only two large randomized controlled trials being conducted in Australia to help prevent egg allergy, which is the most common cause of food allergy in Australia.

> ADDVIT: treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema) with daily vitamin D- CI Prof Dianne Campbell, Dr Lara Ford

Vitamin D plays important roles in regulating the immune system. This randomized controlled trial is exploring whether Vitamin D ingestion improves the control of eczema, a common and troublesome atopic disorder.

> FISH: characterisation of major fish allergens in Australian children- CIs Prof Dianne Campbell, Prof Andreas Lopata

Australian doctors currently rely upon European fish extracts to diagnose fish allergy. This study is characterising the unique Australian and Pacific fish which cause fish allergy in Australian Children.

> Effects of Diet and Omeprazole in patients with eosinophilic oesophagitis-EoE - AI A/Prof Allyson Kakakios

This is a multicentre study looking at the most effective diets for treatment of children with a serious type of allergy which affects the oesophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach).

> Understanding Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)- CIs Dr Sam Mehr, Prof Dianne Campbell, Eric Lee

This study is examining the pathogenesis of FPIES, which is largely unknown. Understanding FPIES will facilitate better diagnosis and management of this condition.

> BOPI for children with peanut allergy- CIs Prof Dianne Campbell, Dr Melanie Wong, Dr Sam Mehr, Dr Peter Hsu, Prof Ralph Nanan 

This is an RCT examining whether boiled peanut oral immunotherapy (rather than roasted or raw peanuts), with or without an adjuvant (a substance that modulates the immune system) may help children outgrow peanut allergy. Suitable participants include children with peanut allergy aged 10-16 years. This NHMRC-funded study will commence no earlier than June 2016. Those interested in participating the study, please email

> Enterocolitis syndrome and eosinophilic esophagitis- CIs Dr Sam Mehr, Dr Katie Frith, Prof Dianne Campbell, APSU

We are investigating new reported cases of these rarer food allergies, and trying to better understand how to recognise, manage and treat these diseases.

> Defining genetic defects in Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders - CI Dr Melanie Wong

> Component Resolved Diagnostics (CRD) in peanut allergy- CIs Prof Dianne Campbell, Dr Sam Mehr

This study examines the use of a range of CRD for diagnosis of peanut allergies in children.

The research team

> Prof Dianne Campbell, Co-Head, Chair of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, email:

Dianne leads randomised controlled trials in peanut and egg allergy (the most common cause of food allergy in Australian children) and ectopic eczema. She also undertakes research into fish allergies in collaboration with Professor Andreas Lopata at James Cook University.

> Dr Melanie Wong, Co-Head, Head of Diagnostic Immunology Laboratory, email:

Melanie is a Senior Staff Specialist in paediatric allergy & immunology with more than 18 years experience. Her clinical and research interests include primary immune deficiencies, newborn genetic testing and transplantation.

> Other Research Team Members

Key publications

Nowak-Węgrzyn A, Katz Y, Mehr SS, Koletzko S (2015) Non-IgE-mediated gastrointestinal food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 135(5): 1114-24

Lee E, Mehr S, Turner PJ, Joshi P, Campbell DE (2015) Adherence to extensively heated egg and cow's milk after successful oral food challenge. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 3(1):125-7.e4

Hsu P, Xie Z, Frith K, Wong M, Kakakios A, Stone KD, Druey KM (2015) Idiopathic systemic capillary leak syndrome in children. Pediatrics 135(3):e730-5

Lee CH, Hsu P, Nanan B, Nanan R, Wong M, Gaskin KJ, Leong RW, Murchie R, Muise AM, Stormon MO (2014) Novel de novo mutations of the interleukin-10 receptor gene lead to infantile onset inflammatory bowel disease. J Crohns Colitis 8(11):1551-6

Turner PJ, Mehr S, Sayers R, Wong M, Shamji MH, Campbell DE, Mills EN (2014) Loss of allergenic proteins during boiling explains tolerance to boiled peanut in peanut allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 134(3):751-3

Mehr S, Frith K, Campbell DE (2014) Epidemiology of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 14(3):208-16

Turner PJ, Mehr S, Joshi P, Tan J, Wong M, Kakakios A, Campbell DE (2014). Safety of food challenges to extensively heated egg in egg-allergic children: a prospective cohort study. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 24, 450-455

Turner PJ, Wong M, Varese N, Rolland JM, O'Hehir RE, Campbell DE (2013) Tolerance to wheat in whole-grain cereal biscuit in wheat-allergic children. J Allergy Clin Immunol 131(3):920-3

Turner PJ, Gray PE, Wong M, Varese N, Rolland JM, O'Hehir R, Campbell DE (2011) Anaphylaxis to apple and orange seed. J Allergy Clin Immunol 128(6):1363-5

Mehr S, Kakakios A, Frith K, Kemp AS (2009) Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome: 16-year experience. Pediatrics 123(3):e459-64