Peanut allergy treatment 'shows promise'
21st August 2017 – A treatment for peanut allergy has been shown as effective for more than 4 years in a clinical trial.
Australian researchers say it provides the strongest evidence to date that a cure for the allergy may be possible. They say it also has implications for the rising number of food allergies in general.
Peanut allergy is the commonest cause of anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that can prove fatal.
Unlike many allergies, which generally resolve themselves during childhood, nut allergies often persist through life. The vigilance required to avoid eating even small amounts of peanuts can have a large impact on wellbeing.
It is estimated that around 1 in 55 children in the UK are allergic to peanuts.
The latest results emerge from a trial at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Victoria, Australia, which examined whether immunotherapy was effective in desensitising people who have an allergy to peanuts.
Small amounts of peanut protein
It involved 48 children with a peanut allergy who were randomly assigned to either receive a probiotic plus increasing amounts of a peanut protein, or a placebo, each day for 18 months.
At the end of the original trial in 2013, 82% of children who received the probiotic and peanut protein were classified as tolerant to peanuts and were able to incorporate peanuts in their diet. This compared with only 4% of children who were given a placebo.
Four years later, 70% could still eat peanuts without experiencing an allergic reaction.
The authors of the study, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, say their findings suggest the immunotherapy treatment is safe and effective. They say it could be used to treat food allergies in general.
The team is now testing the technique in larger clinical trials.
In an emailed statement, Amena Warner, head of clinical services at Allergy UK, describes the findings as "an extremely positive and promising treatment that, although still in its 'trial phase', may provide hope for children, young people and adults with peanut allergy and their families"
She adds: "Peanut is a very good source of protein and nutrition that is enjoyed by many of us, but for people who are peanut allergic, the very thought of peanut instils a strong fear of a serious allergic reaction. So, any closer we get to finding a 'cure' is welcomed by Allergy UK to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of allergic reaction."