New Treatments Ease Peanut Allergy
Peanut Allergy Vaccine in the Works:Charcoal May Reduce Reactions
Activated Charcoal May Block Reactions
Although the vaccine study may be the most exciting news,
JACI Editor Donald Y.M. Yeung, MD, PhD, says another study about using
activated charcoal to curb peanut allergy reactions may provide more practical
Researcher Peter Vadas, MD, of St. Michael's Hospital in
Toronto, and colleagues found that drinking activated charcoal immediately
after accidental exposure to peanuts can block further absorption of
allergy-causing proteins in the body and reduce the severity of allergic
reactions. Activated charcoal is available at many pharmacies.
"Many parents have [the charcoal solution] at home to
prevent poisoning, and if a patient accidentally ingests peanuts, this may be
another approach to preventing a late reaction by keeping peanut in the stomach
so it doesn't get absorbed into the bloodstream," says Leung, who is head of pediatric allergy-immunology at National Jewish Medical
and Research Center in Denver.
But experts say early use of activated charcoal is by no means
a substitute for using standard treatment for anaphylaxis, such as epinephrine
(adrenaline), antihistamines, and seeking emergency medical treatment.
New Advances in a Nutshell
Other findings published in the journal include:
- Regular treatment with an antibody called TNX-901 every four weeks for 16
weeks made patients less sensitive to peanuts, with most patients able to eat
almost nine peanuts. Since accidental peanut ingestions usually involve amounts
of less than two peanuts, researchers say long-term IgE therapy be an effective
way to manage food allergies.
- Measurement of a particular protein in the blood called peanut
peptide-specific IgE may identify those at risk for allergic reactions.
- People with a history of peanut allergy and peanut peptide-specific IgE
levels of 5 or less have at least a 50% chance of outgrowing their
- Food allergies, including peanut allergies, may be a risk factor for
life-threatening asthma, and undiagnosed food allergies may trigger dangerous
asthma attacks in children.
- Despite common fears, casual skin contact or inhalation of peanut butter
fumes will not usually cause a severe allergic reaction.
- Commercial dry roasting of peanuts actually enhances the allergy-causing
potential of peanuts by inhibiting a natural allergy fighter and may help
explain why peanuts are such potent allergens.
"Based on the findings, the future looks brighter for the
millions of patients and their families who live each day in fear that one bite
of the wrong food that contains peanuts might cause a deadly reaction,"
says Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder/CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis