Sunday, January 20, 2013

Potential Treatment for Peanut Allergy?... MAYBE!

Recently the first multi-center double blind placebo trial on sublingual immunotherapy for peanut allergy was released....and the results are promising!

What do we know about peanut allergy?

  • Peanut allergy is on the rise in the US for unknown reasons and affects approximately 1-2% of the population.  
  • This allergy causes havoc in families homes and schools.  Fear of accidental exposure leaves parents worried their child or love one will have a possible deadly reaction. 
  • Sadly about 10 people a year die from fatal reaction to peanut.  
  • Peanut allergy is rarely outgrown;about 20% of people will go on to tolerate peanut.  

Until recently there was little hope of treatment or prevention other than strict avoidance, changes to diet, and label reading.

For those allergic to peanut, good news may be around the corner....

The study:

  • Recently researchers from 5 centers across the US introduced escalating doses of peanut powder over  44 weeks to 40 patients with history of anaphylaxis to peanut.   
  • Most of the recruits had an allergic reaction with as little as <2 2="2" a="a" g="g" li="li" of="of" only="only" peanut="peanut" s="s">
  • Groups were divided equally into 20:20.  The placebo group was given a placebo over 44 weeks and one was given escalating doses of peanut.
  • They started with 0.000165 ug of peanut- this is REALLY REALLY tiny given by mouth. 
  • The goal of the study was for the treatment group to be able to tolerate 16 peanuts (5 grams).

What happened?

  • At 44 weeks, 70% (14/20) of the treatment group ended up being able to tolerate 496 mg of peanut powder (~ 1 2/3 of a peanut).
  • At 68 weeks, 3/20 were able to tolerate 5 grams of peanut powder (~ 16 peanuts) and 2 tolerated 10 grams of peanut (32 peanut).
  • At 44 weeks, 15% (3/20) people in the placebo group developed spontaneous tolerance and were able to tolerate 496 mg (1 2/3 of a peanut).

What does it mean?

  • Sublingual immunotherapy with peanut does induce some level of desensitization in a majority of people with peanut allergy
  • This may provide an important treatment method for kids who are exquisitely sensitive to peanut and worry about cross contamination

This is exciting news for families with peanut allergy and in the future may provide an important and life saving treatment. Please do not try desensitization at home.  This is not ready for prime time YET!

 Interested in reading the actual study?  You can access it here http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(12)01824-6/abstract.   

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