Peanut allergy treatment in sight

Kenny Tucker
November 22, 2018

Furthermore, two-thirds of the people were able to tolerate the equivalent of two peanuts per day after nine to 12 months of treatment, and half the patients tolerated the equivalent of four peanuts.

"Peanut allergy demands lifelong vigilance to avoid accidental exposures, and the unpredictable severity of reactions that do occur can take a toll on children and families", said Dr. A. Wesley Burks, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and senior author of the NEJM publication.

Dr. Stillerman had seven patients enrolled in the large trial, testing a new drug created to build peanut tolerance over time. Of 496 eligible participants ages 4 to 17, 372 received the AR101 oral medication, while the remainder received a placebo drug.

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". They emphasized that children who complete the regimen need to continue to eat a peanut-free diet and may need to keep up maintenance therapy with minute doses of peanut, possibly for the rest of their lives.

During the study, participants were split into groups and given either a capsule of peanut protein or a dummy powder.

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But that improvement came at a cost - almost all of the study participants who received the drug, a pharmaceutical-grade preparation of peanut flour, suffered adverse events of some type, and 1 in 10 withdrew from the trial because of gastrointestinal, skin or respiratory problems or systemic allergic reactions.

It is believed that by gradually building up tolerance levels, allergy sufferers could protect themselves from accidental exposure. OFCs are considered the gold standard for testing food allergy.

She says it is a promising study that could one day lead to a cure. Even better, their reaction to this 100-fold dose at the end of the study was milder than their reaction to the initial dose at the beginning of the study. If approved, it could be available by prescription in 2019.

"This is not a quick fix, and it doesn't mean people with peanut allergy will be able to eat peanuts whenever they want".

There are now no approved treatment options for peanut allergy. The team also reports that once a patient stops treatment, the protective effect wears off.

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