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Our world class allergy team

Stephen Durham

29 June 2017

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust boasts a cutting-edge research allergy team led by Professor Stephen Durham, clinical lead for allergy services at the Trust and head of allergy and clinical immunology at Imperial College’s National Heart and Lung Institute.

What makes the allergy services at the Trust particularly stand out are the world-class experts in the team with expertise in all aspects of allergy, including rhinitis and food allergy. The service is truly integrated with links to asthma, dermatology, gastroenterology, ear nose and throat (ENT) and occupational medicine. This is reflected in the diversity of specialists within the group that includes medical consultants, a consultant allergy dietitian, senior clinicians, specialist registrars and allergy nurses, and an integrated basic research group.

Professor Durham’s allergy group are world leaders in allergen immunotherapy treatment and are involved in international trials of immunotherapy and national food allergy studies. His research group has the highest citation rate for allergy in Europe – around 800 to 1000 citations annually.

Over many years the group have shown that the administration of allergen immunotherapy by injection or by sublingual tablets (tablets under the tongue) is highly effective for grass pollen allergy; the commonest allergy in UK. Furthermore, the group showed that if given continuously over a period of three years, immunotherapy has disease-modifying effects that result in long-term disease remission for years after stopping the treatment. Professor Durham’s group have also performed basic research at Imperial College to understand the underlying mechanisms. This research has resulted in discovery of biomarkers to track responses to treatment and have provided novel insights to develop improved strategies for immunotherapy.

Earlier this year a study from the Trust was published in the prestigious healthcare research journal JAMA. The study compared head-to-head the injection route and the sublingual route. Whereas both routes were highly effective whilst on treatment, two years was insufficient for the long-term effects previously demonstrated for three years treatment*.

Commenting on the research, Professor Durham said: "The important message is that allergen immunotherapy is highly effective and that for long-term effects clinicians are advised to give the treatment for a minimum of three years. Immunotherapy is a very effective treatment for people who have really debilitating hay fever."

The research garnered national media interest and was featured in several national and local media including the Daily Telegraph, Independent and The Times, and was featured on the BBC Radio programme ‘World at One’. 

Professor Stephen Durham’s allergy group are regularly sought after for expert advice including a recent article from the Daily Mail which reported on the different types of pollen which can cause hay fever, and the steps sufferers can take to minimise symptoms of the condition. Professor Durham explained how different types of anti-histamine work and the side effects they can cause, while Dr Isabel Skypala, a consultant allergy dietitian within Professor Durham’s group, discussed the symptoms of pollen food syndrome.

To find out more about this and other research taking place at Royal Brompton & Harefield please visit our research pages or email us at research-findoutmore@rbht.nhs.uk

* this research was funded by the Immune Tolerance Network, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA.

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