New treatment for peanut allergies shows 'life-saving' potential

Image      The children were gives increased doses of peanut protein

Image The children were gives increased doses of peanut protein

People with a peanut allergy have been given new hope after a study showed sufferers could build up tolerance to them.

After six months of treatment followed by six months of maintenance therapy, two-thirds of the 372 children who received the treatment were able to ingest 600 milligrams or more of peanut protein - the equivalent of two peanuts - without developing allergic symptoms.

The trial found that participants not normally able to tolerate exposure to even a tenth of a single peanut could eventually cope with two whole peanuts.

Professor George du Toit, paediatric allergy consultant at Evelina London and the study's chief investigator, said: "Peanut allergy is extremely hard to manage for children and their families, as they have to follow a strict peanut-free diet". "I couldn't have a birthday cake at parties and now I can", she said.

The results, announced Sunday at a conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Seattle, may lead to approval of what could be the first oral medication that ameliorates reactions in children with severe peanut allergies.

Children diagnosed with a severe allergy took part in a trial where they were given increasing amounts of peanut protein over a year.

"We had to constantly study food labels to ensure peanuts were completely eliminated from Emily's diet".

Emily has had a peanut allergy since she was one and her mum says the study is life-changing. "The impact on our family life was huge".

The goal of the treatment is not to cure the allergy or enable children to eat peanut butter sandwiches, but to reduce the risk that an accidental exposure to trace amounts will trigger a life-threatening reaction in someone with a severe allergy, and relieve the fear and anxiety that go along with severe peanut allergies.

The allergy is rarely outgrown and is the most common cause of food allergy deaths.

The PALISADE study was funded by Aimmune Therapeutics, manufacturers of the peanut protein used during the trial.