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New Therapy May Knock Out Peanut Allergy

Experimental Treatment Gives Patients Tiny Amounts of Peanut Protein

Second Peanut Allergy Study

In a second study of 18 children with peanut allergies, the researchers gave the peanut protein treatment to 12 children and placebo powder to the other six.

After 10 months, the children were given the peanut challenge. The kids taking placebo had allergic reactions after consuming the equivalent of one and a half peanuts. Those in the treatment group could tolerate 15 peanuts before they developed symptoms.

"This is the first study to show in a controlled way that oral immunotherapy works," Burks says. The study continues, with the researchers planning to enroll about 80 more patients.

Still, both studies are small and the children haven't been followed for that long. "We have to wait and see if the children continue to tolerate peanuts over the long term," he says.

Don't try this at home, he cautions. Unless they're in the study, Burks gives the same advice to patients with food allergies that he always has given: avoid the offending food.

Burks predicts oral immunotherapy will become a standard treatment within the next few years. Studies in people with milk and egg allergies also show promise, he notes.

Wood isn't quite as optimistic. "The studies are encouraging, and some patients have been desensitized to peanuts. But whether that translates into long-term tolerance remains to be seen. FDA approval [of oral immunotherapy] is at least a decade away."

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