Natasha Ednan-Laperouse: the parents of a teenager who died of an allergy to Pret set up a clinical trial

The parents of a teenager who died of an allergic reaction after eating a baguette have set up a ‘game-changing’ medical trial in a bid to put an end to food allergies.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died in 2016 after suffering anaphylactic shock from sesame seeds hidden in a Pret a Manger sandwich.

She bought the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette from the chain store at Heathrow Airport, before catching a flight to Nice with her father.

The packaging did not show allergy advice as it was made on site, meaning the warnings were not required by law at the time.

New rules – now known as Natasha’s Law – were introduced last October to ensure allergy advice is given on all foods.

Now his parents, Tanya and Nadim, have launched a new trial to determine if commonly available peanut and milk products can be used as a treatment for people with food allergies.

The £2.2million immunotherapy trial over three years – which will be done under medical supervision – will give patients tiny doses to slowly build up their tolerance.

It could mean people who would otherwise have died from just a drop of milk might be able to eat popular foods like cakes, curries and pizza, Mr and Mrs Ednan-Laperouse say.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died in 2016 after suffering a severe allergic reaction to sesame in a Pret baguette

Her parents, Tanya and Nadim, have launched a new trial to determine if commonly available peanut and milk products, taken under medical supervision, can be used as a treatment for people with food allergies.

Her parents, Tanya and Nadim, have launched a new trial to determine if commonly available peanut and milk products, taken under medical supervision, can be used as a treatment for people with food allergies.

How did Natasha Ednan-Laperouse die?

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died in 2016 after suffering a severe allergic reaction to sesame in a Pret baguette.

The 15-year-old knew she was allergic to milk, eggs, bananas, nuts and sesame seeds. His father, Nadim, had therefore carefully checked the label.

But the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette contained sesame seeds which were baked into the batter and were not visible or listed in the ingredients.

She suffered anaphylactic shock minutes after taking off on a British Airways flight to France.

Despite efforts to give her adrenaline shots, she was unable to breathe and suffered a heart attack and later died in a French hospital on July 17, 2016.

Nadim, 56, administered two Epi-pens – which delivered potentially life-saving adrenaline to his daughter as she struggled to breathe.

But they didn’t work and she suffered several cardiac arrests.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today, Ms Ednan-Laperouse said immunotherapy could help people eat ‘generous amounts’ of foods they were allergic to.

Discussing how long it takes for tolerance to develop, she said: “Well it takes a year, about a year.

“That person will then have to ensure that they take this food every day or that there is a minimum amount per week that they must take this food to avoid allergies.

“If they don’t, they will go back. So it’s not a cure, in no way a cure.

“But that means they could eat a generous amount of this food for the rest of their lives.”

Her husband added, “It’s the completely game-changing thing.”

The study will recruit 216 people between the ages of 3 and 23 who are allergic to cow’s milk and between the ages of 6 and 23 who are allergic to peanuts.

After an initial 12 months of desensitization under strict medical supervision, participants will be followed for an additional two years to provide longer-term data.

Mr Ednan-Laperouse said: “This is a major first step in our mission to eradicate food allergies.

“The goal is to save lives and prevent serious hospitalizations by providing lifelong protection against severe allergic reactions to food.

“We are delighted that a consortium of food companies is supporting our work with donations that will help fund this study.

“The study aims to fill the current research gap in oral immunotherapy by proving that everyday foods can be used as a practical treatment for children and young adults with allergies at a fraction of the cost to the NHS.

“If successful, this will enable the NHS to provide cost-effective treatment for people with food allergies through oral immunotherapy.

“This would allow people, once desensitized under clinical supervision, to control their own lives and remain allergy free by using store-bought foods rather than expensive pharmaceuticals.”

The three-year, £2.2million Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) trial aims to show that people with food allergies may no longer have to avoid foods with small amounts of allergens

The three-year, £2.2million Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) trial aims to show that people with food allergies may no longer have to avoid foods with small amounts of allergens

How are food allergies treated?

There are two main types of medications that can be used to relieve the symptoms of an allergic reaction to food:

  • antihistamines – used to treat mild to moderate allergic reactions
  • adrenaline – used to treat severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)

Antihistamines

Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, which is responsible for many symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Adrenaline

Adrenaline works by narrowing blood vessels to counter the effects of low blood pressure and by opening the airways to help relieve breathing difficulties. It is administered by auto-injectors, such as an Epipen.

Experiments on other treatments, such as immunotherapy, are underway.

In December 2021, the NHS supported Palforzia, an immunotherapy treatment to reduce the severity of reactions to peanuts, including anaphylaxis.

Patients are dosed monthly, allowing tolerance to be carefully built over time.

Source: ENM

Ms Ednan-Laperouse added: “We were determined that Natasha’s death would not be in vain.

“Following the successful implementation of Natasha’s Law, which brought new ingredient and allergen labeling, we are thrilled to announce Natasha’s first clinical trial.”

The trial, funded by the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, will be led by the University of Southampton and the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

They will partner with Imperial College London, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Newcastle University and Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Money for the lawsuit was raised by the foundation, including from food companies including Greggs, Tesco, Just Eat, Co-op, Morrisons, KFC, Sainsbury’s, Costa, Burger King, Pret, Lidl and Leon.

In December 2021, the NHS supported Palforzia, a treatment to reduce the severity of reactions to peanuts, including anaphylaxis.

Patients are dosed monthly, allowing tolerance to be carefully built over time.

In contrast, the new trial will examine whether everyday foods can be used to treat thousands of allergy sufferers.

Professor Hasan Arshad, an allergy and immunology expert at the University of Southampton, said: “This project presents a unique opportunity to establish immunotherapy as a practical treatment that will enable people with food allergies to conduct a normal life.”

Co-lead researcher Dr Paul Turner, Reader in Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Imperial College London, said: “This study heralds a new era for the active treatment of food allergy.

“For too long, we’ve told people to avoid the foods they’re allergic to. That’s not a cure, and people with food allergies and their families deserve better.


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