Bold Steps in the Field of Food Allergy

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For 10 long years, Caleigh, now 17, couldn’t tolerate most foods because of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a chronic allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food to the stomach. She received nourishment primarily from drinking an amino acid formula. But with treatment at CHOP, she is now able to enjoy a wide range of foods. She excels at school, swims competitively and loves to bake.

Caleigh with Terri Brown-Whitehorn, MD Caleigh with Terri Brown-Whitehorn, MD First recognized in the early 1990s, EoE has been the subject of much study during the past three decades. The result has been an explosion of information about this disease, led largely by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and fueled by philanthropy.

More than 2,000 patients with eosinophilic disorders, such as EoE, have been treated at CHOP’s Center for Pediatric Eosinophilic Disorders (CPED). The hospital has become a national leader in accurate diagnosis and effective treatments for these diseases in children, as well as in conducting research to answer the many questions surrounding them.

Thanks to the generous support of donors, the CPED continues to pursue breakthrough research about why certain foods cause allergic inflammation, why the inflammation is more severe in some patients, predicting which patients will respond to treatment, and exploring novel therapies that may lead to a cure.

The donation allowed CHOP to hire a bioinformatics scientist and begin the creation of a massive database to track patient- and physician-reported symptoms and outcomes; link clinical and genetic data; and begin a CHOP-wide initiative to link all clinical data in the hospital with molecular data.

"The information produced by this database will improve the world's understanding of EoE's natural history and help inform new research questions," says Chris Liacouras, MD, Co-director of the CPED. Adds CPED Co-director Jonathan Spergel, MD, PhD, "And ultimately, help more children with eosinophilic disorders."

This is just one of the many stories of donor impact that happened during the campaign For Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs.

Read more about Caleigh's journey in the full patient story.