More than three million people in the United States are allergic to peanuts, and odds are, you probably know one of them. Having a peanut allergy often means a lifetime of warding off dangerous symptoms, which range from a mild rash to life-threatening anaphylaxis. But thankfully, a new treatment could soon make those with peanut allergies breath a little easier.
Professor Mimi Tang and her team of Australian researchers just developed a method of reversing peanut allergies using a probiotic combined with peanut oral immunotherapy (PPOIT). While most patients tend to avoid their allergen, this treatment is specifically designed to expose children to small doses of peanuts over time. Doing so can reprogram the childrens’ immune systems until they eventually developed a tolerance. (Know the signs your child has a food allergy.)
To test the treatment, researchers conducted a small clinical trial at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Their results showed a promising trend: Two-thirds of the children treated no longer reacted to peanut exposure. What’s more, their peanut tolerance has lasted at least four years after the treatment.
For the trial, nearly 50 children were randomly assigned to two groups; the first group received a combination of the probiotic with peanut protein in increasing amounts, while the other received a placebo, once daily for 18 months. When the original study completed in 2013, 82 percent of children who received the immunotherapy treatment were deemed tolerant to peanuts, as compared to just four percent of the placebo group.
Fast forward four years later, and a follow-up study has revealed that the majority of the children who gained an initial tolerance still consume peanuts in their normal diet. What’s more, 70 percent passed a further test to confirm that they have developed a long-term tolerance to peanuts. (To catch the allergy early, try this strategy to avoid peanut allergies in children.)
“The way I see it is that we had children who came into the study allergic to peanuts, having to avoid peanuts in their diet, being very vigilant around that, carrying a lot of anxiety with that and, at the end of treatment and even four years later, many of these children who had benefited from our probiotic peanut therapy could now live like a child who didn’t have peanut allergy,” Tang told The Guardian.
It’s a hopeful step in the right direction for those with peanut allergies. But unfortunately, no one can rest easy quite yet. These allergies are on the rise, and you could be at risk.
[Source: The Guardian]