Benjamin L. Wright, M.D., studies the pathophysiology of food allergy and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. Food allergy is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects 4% of the population, and it has become increasingly common in recent decades. New treatments such as oral immunotherapy are now clinically available. However, which patients are most likely to benefit or experience side effects is unknown. In addition, some patients with food allergy develop eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).
In collaboration with Alfred D. Doyle, Ph.D., Dr. Wright uses novel genetic mouse models, minimally invasive diagnostic tests, such as the esophageal string test and mucosal impedance, and targeted immunotherapeutic agents to address these questions. The Wright-Doyle Lab is a translational research program that incorporates laboratory-based investigations, human mechanistic studies and clinical trials to identify the causes of allergic disease and to develop new diagnostics and treatments.
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- Food allergy and the environment. Allergic diseases have increased dramatically since the 1950s. Dr. Wright is studying the effects of environmental exposures, such as detergents, on the immune system, microbiome and barrier function of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Mechanisms of allergic inflammation. Dr. Wright is identifying which immune cells and molecules are responsible for the initiation and persistence of allergic disease.
- Noninvasive diagnostics for eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. Endoscopic biopsies are required for diagnosis of eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. Dr. Wright is developing noninvasive ways to diagnose these.
- Oral immunotherapy and eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Five percent of people who undergo oral immunotherapy for food allergy develop eosinophilic esophagitis. Dr. Wright is investigating the connection between food allergy and EoE.
Significance to patient care
By understanding the mechanisms underlying food allergy and EoE, Dr. Wright is developing personalized treatment approaches to improve patient outcomes. At Mayo Clinic in Arizona, he is actively recruiting patients for clinical studies, including pediatric patients at Phoenix Children's Hospital. These studies focus on identifying environmental exposures related to food allergy and improving the safety and effectiveness of oral immunotherapy.
- Vice chair, Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders Subcommittee, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2022-present.
- Scholar, Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR), Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN), 2020-2022.