And Now, Some Good News About Peanuts
Eating 10 peanuts might not sound like a big deal. But to people with peanut allergy -- or their parents -- being able to eat just one, or even to be in the same room with a peanut, would be a welcome relief.
British researchers reporting in the journal Allergy have successfully used "peanut oral immunotherapy" to increase peanut-allergic people's tolerance for peanuts. They fed four peanut-allergic boys ages 9-13 increasingly larger doses of peanut flour (ground peanuts) mixed in yogurt over the course of six weeks. (Toward the end, the kids could switch to creamy peanut butter instead of the yogurt mixture.)
Before the immunotherapy, the children could tolerate only one-fortieth to one-quarter of a peanut. At the end of the trial, all four kids - including one who had gone into anaphylaxis during the initial part of the study when each child's tolerance level was tested -- were able to consume 10 whole peanuts. To maintain that tolerance, the boys have to consume 5 whole peanuts a day.
The new study was based on a protocol developed and tested by immunologists at Duke University Medical Center led by Wesley Burks. As I wrote last May, Burks, who is chief of the department of pediatric allergy and immunology at Duke, believed that such oral immunotherapy for peanut allergies would be a viable treatment option within 5 years. The new study makes that estimate seem all the more likely and paves the way for larger clinical trials by further demonstrating that the therapy can be safe and effective.
Of course, more work needs to be done before such therapy is put to widespread use, and because of the high risk of anaphylaxis, it will may always need to be done in controlled medical settings. I don't need to remind anyone not to try this at home, right?
Posted by: garyray | February 23, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse
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