This week I went to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London for an initial consultation to assess my eligibility for the TRACE peanut study. The study aims to pinpoint the level of peanut protein small enough to cause no reaction in allergic people. The Food Standards Agency is hoping the study will help identify thresholds for testing so that foods can be sold as truly peanut free, as gluten free foods are e.g. 20 ppm or less of gluten is classified as gluten free.
It will involve eight different visits to the hospital for various different challenges, test and trials including inducing stress, fatigue and exercise and their effect on peanut allergy reactions.
This first consultation involved:
- Full tests including skin prick tests for peanuts, all other nuts and a number of other allergens.
- Bloods taken for RAST blood tests.
- Asthma tests to confirm an asthma diagnosis by breathing in higher and higher doses of histamine and subsequent peak flow results.
- A stint on the exercise bike, hooked up by wires to a monitor, cycling at a steady pace while the incline got harder and harder until you cannot continue. THAT was tough but good fun. I did pretty well and in the end they had to ask me to stop, before I had to! Ha!
The results above show the following:
Top arm, top row: The nuts. From left to right; Macadamia nut, Pistachio, Cashew, Smaller reactions to Walnuts and Hazel nuts, nothing for Brazil nuts and Peanuts had a whopping reaction on the far right. The Peanut reaction was measured after 20 minutes, look at the inner circle. The doctor continued to measure the other arm and meanwhile the peanut reaction was going berserk – see the second wider outline with a tail!
Top arm, bottom row: From right to left, the big one was Dairy – predictably. One of my worst allergies, but wheat also showed a slight reaction. The first reaction there was the positive test to prove my skin does react to histamine.
Bottom arm, top row: Dust and dust mites.
Bottom arm, Bottom row: From right to left, Tree pollen – Birch and Alder and Cats and dogs!
Why am I getting involved?
The best thing about being involved? Getting to see specialist allergists who really care about improving the lives of allergic patients. As we all know it’s not easy getting referred to a specialist for continue support when you are an adult so this is a fantastic opportunity for me to also find out all about my allergies and how I react. It should give me a much better understanding about my own limits, the severity of my peanut allergy and what situations make any reaction worse.
There is a slim chance I might not be eligible as the Wheat allergy test came up in the skin prick tests and one of the challenge tests included peanut in a mousse which contains wheat and maybe dairy too. If I can’t participate in this part of the study it might mean I can’t take part. This would be such a shame. I am sending vibes to the people who make this mousse – please can you make it with rice flour?
What is the trial about?
This is what it says on the TRACE study website:
“The TRACE Peanut Study aims to find out exactly how much peanut is safe for the population, so food labelling can be improved.
Food manufacturers generally use ‘may contain nuts’ warnings because they can’t be sure whether products may, by accident, contain peanut. The TRACE Peanut Study aims to find out exactly how much peanut will cause an allergic reaction in those with a peanut allergy by conducting ‘challenges’ on around 100 people. The focus area of the study is on two ‘extrinsic’ factors known to influence allergic thresholds (exercise and tiredness).
The Food Standards Agency, who commissioned the trial, will be able to use this information to improve the clarity of food labelling for peanut-allergic consumers in the UK.”
Am I eligible?
The trial is open to both men and women. To be eligible, you must:
- Be aged 18 – 45 years
- Had a peanut allergy diagnosed by a doctor
- Be prepared to complete a fitness running test (approx 20 mins)
- Please note that certain serious illnesses and other conditions may preclude certain individuals from participating, some of these are detailed on the registration page. Women who are pregnant, planning to be pregnant during the study or who are breastfeeding during the study are not eligible for the trial.
If you believe you may be eligible to participate, please click through to the Registration page and complete the form shown.
Reasons why you may not be eligible…
I just found out that I am not eligible for this study and I’m completely gutted. It was the one positive thing that I had to look forward to, I had hoped it would help me understand my allergies better, why I’m getting more and more foods that I cannot eat without chronic eczema and maybe, just maybe, how I can improve my health.
This is what they said:
“Dear Ruth, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, its has taken a while for the results.
I’m very sorry Ruth but while your blood results indicate you would be eligible for Trace study, your wheat allergy means we can’t continue. Unfortunately the desert matrix needs to be standardized between all participants which is why we can’t make specific mixes for individuals. This is a real shame as I knew how keen you are to take part but I do hope the study will benefit you in the long run.
Feel free to contact us with any questions, in the meantime all the best and thanks so much for your interest and your wonderful blog. Best Wishes, Emily”
I am very, very sad about this and wish you more luck if you want to get involved. It’s a very worthwhile study and should ultimately improve choice and help people with allergies stay safer by determining the minimum threshholds for an allergic reaction to peanut protein.
TRACE study is looking for more adults with peanut allergy to get involved
Do you have a peanut allergy?
Could you spare the time to visit either London or Cambridge for 8 separate days of tests?
You could earn £100 a day to cover your travel costs and loss of earnings.
The doctors I met this week told me they were still looking for adults with a peanut allergy so please get in touch if you’re interested.