Allergy/Immunology Research


The focus of research in the Paediatric Allergy and Immunology Department is to improve understanding in the mechanisms of autoimmune and allergic diseases. Research aims to produce a better understanding of mechanisms that will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

All research in our department is undertaken after approval from the Hunter New England Local Health District Ethics Committee.

During a patient's initial assessment at John Hunter Children's Hospitals outpatients clinic, a patient may be asked to participate in current research studies if found to be eligible. Parents have the choice to agree or decline. If a patient declines, it will not affect your treatment by our services in any way.


Current Allergy/Immunology Research


Precautionary Allergen Labelling Awareness in a TErtiary paediatric centre (‘PALATE’ study)

Precautionary labelling of food products, such as “may contain trace of…”, is a topical subject in immunology and allergy at present. There is no universal standardised correlation between the statement on the product label, and the amount of allergen in a product. This may put an individual with food allergy at risk, through both unknown amount of allergen and behaviours around access and use of these products.

The ‘PALATE’ study is a single-centre study proposed to run at John Hunter Children’s Hospital between January and July in 2016. It is organised by paediatric registrar Christopher Vedeler and supervised by paediatric immunologist Dr Rani Bhatia, in collaboration with the paediatric immunology team. 

The study will investigate the awareness of precautionary allergen labelling and the impact it has on the quality of life in families with children with food allergies. Parents and carers who attend with their child for the child's appointment in the Allergy clinics in the paediatric outpatients department will be provided with an information sheet provided to all of Dr Bhatia's patients on arrival to the clinic. The subsequent survey is an electronic survey on iPads provided by  the immunology team to parents and carers while waiting for their child's appointment. The goal is to include at least 250 subjects between January and July, and report and publish the findings.

Longitudinal Health Review of Paediatric Patients with Juvenile Dermatomyositis via Nailfold Capillaroscopy Appearances (PINCA Review)

The purpose of the study is to review the differences in nail appearance in people that have the illness juvenile dermatomyositis and participated in a similar study in 2008 called PINCA. The study hopes to see changes in the nail vessel appearance by comparing the 2008 pictures of the nails to new pictures in 2011. It is thought that by looking at the nail patterns we can see how the treatments for Juvenile Dermatomyositis may have helped in relieving some of the symptoms over time. This study will help our understanding of this illness and improve the way we look after patients.


PEAnut Anaphylaxis Predictors (PEAAP Study)

Peanut allergy is often diagnosed when hives, swelling, difficulty breathing or collapse (anaphylaxis) occur shortly after eating food containing peanuts. An allergy to peanut is confirmed either by a blood test or a Skin Prick Test (SPT). These tests however, are not always able to identify peanut allergy with certainty. Because there isn’t a definitive blood or skin test for diagnosing peanut allergy, diagnosing peanut allergy often still requires the patient to eat peanut to be certain of an allergy to peanuts.

This study aims to determine if a new blood test and breathing test are able to predict if a severe allergic reaction will occur during a peanut food challenge. This may mean that in future some children can have a blood test instead of having to eat peanut in a food challenge.

Children and adolescents between the ages of 6-17 years with a suspected peanut allergy are eligible to participate in this study.

The study will involve your child:

  • Answering a 5 minute questionnaire (you can do this on behalf of your child);
  • Having a Skin prick test to peanut,
  • Performing 2 different breathing tests (one to measure lung flows/volumes and a second to measure the concentration of a particular gas [Nitric oxide] in the breath),
  • Giving a blood sample to measure antibodies to peanut and other biomarkers,
  • Undergoing a peanut food challenge, where your child will be given increasing amounts of peanut and closely monitored any for signs of allergic reaction,
  • Repeating one of the breathing tests (FeNO) after each dose of peanut and at the completion of the food challenge.

If you are interested in this study please contact: 0427 326 890 or email