PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — Tech billionaire Sean Parker is pledging $24 million toward a Stanford University campaign to develop a cure for all allergies with one single treatment.
The 35-year-old Napster co-founder and first president of Facebook suffers from asthma and allergies so severe that he spent three weeks of his senior year in the emergency room. Now the father of two says finding a cure is a top priority.
His donation, one of the largest to allergy research in the country, will finance a new research center at Stanford that will bear his name and cover studies into the causes of allergies and new experimental therapies for patients.
Leading the new Center for Allergy Research is physician Kari Nadeau, who’s pivotal allergy research and innovative care earned her a profile in the New York Times magazine last year.
Nadeau developed an an experimental treatment known as oral immunotherapy that could desensitize children with severe peanut allergies by giving them small doses of peanut every other day, gradually escalating the amount over the course of several years until the food is no longer dangerous.
About 30 to 40 percent of the world suffers from one or more allergic conditions, ranging for seasonal problems to deadly reactions to foods, bees and other stimuli. But that figure has increased in recent decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of American children with a food allergy has also been rising for no clear reason.
Parker told TechCrunch the new Center for Allergy Research has the goal of finding a cure in the next 5-10 years and expanding treatment internationally.