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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?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  February 23, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health  
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Comments

So what's new and why has it taken so long for the medical profession to get around to this type of desensitization? Its been used for over 50 years for people allergic to penicillin and other drugs and in all kinds of allergy treatment. And being 5 years out at a minimum why give people false hope of an relief?

Posted by: garyray | February 23, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Hi there, I live in Kingston Ontario Canada.
I have been allergic to peanut oil all my life. I use to be deathly allergic but as years wentby I have adapted to it a little. Before I read this I have to say I have tried this at home., sorry. I am 36 yrs old now and have had medcial training. I tried by only eating one peanut chew it up good, then another one. The frist time I tried it was 8 yrs ago, Then I could only eat 2-3 tried in july 2008 can only eat 5 tops. that is without eating 5 peanuts a day. I would really like to be part of this studieson this. How can I help. I am going to contact my family doc. DR. David Hurst. Kingston Ontario.

Posted by: lifesgreat | February 23, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

garyray Hi there, I blieve from what I have been told. It has to do with the peanut oil, like any oil your body will soak it up and makes it hard to flush it out.

Posted by: lifesgreat | February 23, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

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