BUT LI ISN’T SURE that FDA drug approval is the only way to go. “We have a lot of gaps we need to learn: the dose, the product itself and how to use one single product to handle multiple conditions.” (In her private practice, Li can tailor the treatment plan to the individual. The same is not possible in a clinical trial.) The cost of the research is also a barrier. She’s realistic: “In order to get the product to finally have FDA approval as a prescription drug, it would be at least five years or eight years, even with very strong funding.”
Rather, Li hopes to use some of the anecdotal evidence she has gathered in her private practice combined with objectives measures from blood tests, like basophils and B-cells, to present a clinical observational study to the FDA. She is aiming to develop a few different protocols that could be used, depending on whether the patient has eczema, or multiple food allergies, etc.
“The protocols are personalized, but they can be standardized,” she says. Once such a standardized protocol has been developed, other allergists and practitioners could use her methods, eliminating the need for people to travel to see her.
For many of the parents and patients in the Chinese Herbs for Food Allergies Facebook group, this would be welcome news. Li estimates this type of study would only take about three years.
For Anarie, life has changed dramatically since the days an ambulance frequently had to rush to pick her up at school while she endured yet another anaphylactic reaction. For one, she now eats nuts. And she has embarked on another international adventure: three years of university in Amsterdam. “It’s a whole new chapter, after the allergies. If I still had them, I would be staying at home,” she says.