Pilot Grant to Support Genetic Eosinophilic Esophagitis Investigation

May 20 2015

Pilot Grant to Support Genetic Eosinophilic Esophagitis Investigation

Eosinophilic EsophagitisThe Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Antonella Cianferoni, MD, PhD, recently received a two-year, $140,000 grant from the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) and the Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Education and Research Organization (ARTrust) to study the genetic underpinnings of the severe food allergy eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).

Given annually since 2013, the Hope APFED/ARTrust Pilot Grant awards help “initiate projects relevant to eosinophil-associated diseases, with a focus on the development of new and inventive ideas that are likely to lead to future external funding and better patient outcomes,” according to APFED’s site. Past winners of the award include Boston Children’s Hospital’s Michiko Oyoshi, PhD, and Seema Aceves, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego.

Only recognized in the last twenty to thirty years, EoE is marked by inflammation and painful swelling in the esophagus, along with high levels of immune cells called eosinophils. It can affect people of any age, but is more common among young men who have a history of other allergic diseases such as asthma and eczema. Children with EoE experience varying symptoms including belly pain, trouble swallowing, uncontrollable reflux, and failure to thrive.

After receiving her MD and then PhD from the University of Florence, Dr. Cianferoni completed fellowships at Johns Hopkins University and Boston Children’s before coming to Children’s Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Much of her work has been centered on food allergy pathogenesis.

Last year Dr. Cianferoni published a pair of papers with Jonathan Spergel, MD, PhD, co-director of CHOP’s Center for Pediatric Eosinophilic Disorders. One, published in Immunotherapy, reviewed immunotherapeutic approaches to treating EoE, while a second paper published in Expert Review of Clinical Immunology examined the role the protein thymic stromal lymphopoietin plays in allergic disease. She also contributed to a Nature Communications study led by the Center for Applied Genomics’ Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, that identified four new genes associated with EoE.

“This award will allow me to focus my research on understanding which role genetic variations play in each individual patient, potentially making it easier in the future to predict the best therapy to use in a single patient based on his/her own genetic makeup,” said Dr. Cianferoni when the award was announced.

To read more about Dr. Cianferoni’s award, see APFED’s press release page. For more information about eosinophilic esophagitis and related disorders, visit the Center for Pediatric Eosinophilic Disorders.