New Treatments Ease Peanut Allergy
Peanut Allergy Vaccine in the Works:Charcoal May Reduce Reactions
July 10, 2003 -- A promising experimental peanut allergy
vaccine may soon provide lasting protection against potentially
Though that day may still be years away, new research also
shows that a common household item might provide immediate help in warding off
or even preventing some severe allergic reactions.
Those studies, along with several other reports detailing new
advances in peanut allergy detection, treatment, and prevention, appear in this
month's issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies, and
1.5 million Americans have severe peanut allergies that can be triggered by
eating even a trace amount of peanut. Researchers say about half of all deaths
due to food allergies are caused by peanut allergy alone.
Despite the severity and prevalence of peanut allergy,
researchers say more than 80% of people who die from food-related anaphylaxis
or severe allergic reaction had not been properly instructed on how to avoid or
manage accidental exposure to food allergens or triggers.
A Peanut Allergy Vaccine?
Researchers say the recent discovery of the specific proteins
in peanuts that are responsible for triggering an allergic reaction has now
paved the way for vaccine development.
A study published in JACI describes a new technique
using E. coli bacteria to deliver a vaccine in the form of a suppository
that provided effective protection against peanut allergy for up to three
months in mice bred to have peanut allergy.
Since genetically altered E. coli bacteria produce the
proteins involved in peanut allergy reaction, researchers used an inactivated
form of the bacteria to deliver the vaccine, which contained three different
genetically modified forms of allergy-causing peanut protein.
"This gave us quite surprising protection as well as longer
lasting protection than we've seen by any other method," says researcher
Hugh A. Sampson, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, who
discussed the results of the study in a teleconference today.
"This particular vaccine that could be adopted for human
use provides some hope that within the next several years we may be able to
treat patients with peanut anaphylaxis and actually turn off the reaction so we
no longer see symptoms."
Researchers say they hope to begin human trials of the vaccine
within the next year. The vaccine would most likely be given over a series of
about three doses using a teaspoon-sized gel suppository and may require yearly
booster doses for best protection.