George du Toit, our Professor of Paediatric Allergy, has received the prestigious Daniel Bovet Award for Treatment and Prevention of Allergic Disease.
The award was given by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) at their 2020 Digital Congress. The award recognises researchers and clinicians who have contributed significantly to innovations that could control and prevent allergic diseases.
George du Toit is Professor of Paediatric Allergy at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and King’s College London. In addition to his clinical work running dedicated clinics in children’s food allergy and drug allergy, Professor du Toit has been involved with a number of landmark research studies.
Professor du Toit’s research focuses primarily on the prevention and treatment of peanut allergy. Peanut Allergy can cause fatal anaphylactic reactions. It affects about 1.5% of infants in the UK. Other than preventing contact with all traces, there is no known cure. A diagnosis of peanut allergy significantly impacts on the quality of life of the both patient and family.
Among Professor du Toit’s most important research achievements are the LEAP and LEAP-On studies, in which he is the senior co-investigator alongside Professor Gideon Lack. The LEAP study showed that regular exposure to peanuts between four and eleven months of age significantly reduced a child’s chance of developing an allergy by the age of five. The impact was immediate and has changed weaning practice around the world. If correctly applied, it may prevent over 100,000 infants a year from developing peanut allergy.
Professor du Toit was also the UK Chief Investigator on the PALISADE study, the largest peanut allergy treatment trial ever undertaken. PALISADE showed that an immunotherapy could help to protect children with a peanut allergy from life threatening allergic reactions after accidental exposure. Similar findings have now been published from the ARTEMIS desensitisation trial and it is hoped that this evidence will lead to the licensing of these products for use not only in the USA but also across Europe.
Speaking about the award, Professor du Toit said: “I am incredibly honoured to have received this award from EAACI. I would like to give special thanks to the research teams at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London who have supported my research work. I am also grateful to work within the NHS where this research can have a real benefit for patients. Finally I would of course like to thank the children who have participated in our research and their families, as without them, none of the studies I have worked on would be possible.”