Peanut Protein in Measured Doses May Counter the Effects of Allergies


  • Children with peanut allergies may be able to eat 2 peanuts after one year of steady exposure, says a study.
  • The study is seen as a solution that will significantly impact the lives of individuals allergic to peanuts.
  • Furthermore, the findings could free people of the anxiety of the effects of accidental exposure to peanuts.

Peanut protein of carefully measured doses may reverse the effects of extreme allergies. An individual with a peanut allergy will be able to eat about two peanuts after gradual exposure for a year, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It is contended that turning allergies around may be ‘life-transforming’ for patients with peanut allergies says Michael Perkins, pediatric allergist of St. George’s at the University of London.

Study coauthor and immunologist Daniel Adelman said he and his team of researchers hoped that the treatment would serve as a guard for people to be aware of the potential bad effects of peanut exposure. Additionally, it could help them to become free from the fear and anxiety associated with what can possibly happen with accidental exposures to peanuts.

Exposure to peanut comes in the form of the drug called AR101 or as the study calls it “peanut-derived investigational biologic oral immunotherapy drug.” Precisely 0.5 milligrams of peanut protein which is approximately equal to one-six hundredth of a large peanut was doled out.

Researchers followed 372 children of ages 4 to 17 years who started taking the lowest dose of AR101. For every two weeks, doses were increased until the kids reached 300 milligrams, which is equivalent to a single peanut.

Participants living in the United States, Canada and Europe took those doses for the next 24 weeks. At the end of the trial, the participants were challenged under close supervision if they could increase their peanut protein doses. Results showed that of the 372 children, two-thirds or 250 who received the peanut protein treatment can tolerate a 600-milligram dose of peanut protein which is proportionate to about two peanuts. As for the 124 who received the placebos, 5 participants could tolerate the same dose.

Upon receiving the drug, nearly all the participants had allergic reactions to it — which were expected, since “you’re giving people the thing they’re allergic to,” Adelman says. However, it was noted that most of those reactions such as a rash or slight abdominal pain weren’t severe.

Experts say that although the drug is made of peanut protein, parents, or even doctors, shouldn’t try similar treatments by measuring peanut protein themselves. Peanut exposure in unmeasured doses could be quite risky.

“Don’t try this at home. This is treating peanut like a medicine, not a food,” says pediatric allergist Scott Sicherer of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.

While the regimen is promising, it’s not a cure, cautions Schicher. It remains to be seen how long people would need consistent exposure to maintain their tolerance.  A regular routine might probably be needed.

Source: Science News

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