Will Peanut Treatment Guard Against Peanut Allergy?

SUNDAY, Nov. 18, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- People with peanut allergy can protect themselves from an allergic reaction by consuming a small amount of peanut powder every day, a new study suggests.

The "breakthrough" findings mean this new treatment is ready for review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the researchers added.

"We're excited about the potential to help children and adolescents with peanut allergy protect themselves against accidentally eating a food with peanut in it," study co-author Dr. Stephen Tilles said in an ACAAI news release.

"Our hope when we started the study was that by treating patients with the equivalent of one peanut per day, many would tolerate as much as two peanuts," he said.

"We were pleased to find that two-thirds of the people in the study were able to tolerate the equivalent of two peanuts per day after nine to 12 months of treatment, and half the patients tolerated the equivalent of four peanuts," noted Tilles, a Seattle allergist and ACAAI past president.

The study included 551 patients, aged 4 to 55, with peanut allergy. One-third were given a placebo, while two-thirds were given peanut protein powder in increasing amounts until they reached the maintenance dose equivalent of one peanut a day.

"This is not a quick fix, and it doesn't mean people with peanut allergy will be able to eat peanuts whenever they want," said study co-author Dr. Jay Lieberman, vice chair of the ACAAI food allergy committee.

"But it is definitely a breakthrough," he added. "The hope would be to have a treatment available in the second half of 2019. If that happens, people who receive and are able to tolerate this treatment should be protected from accidental exposures."

Allergist Dr. Punita Ponda agreed.

"The doses patients tolerate are high enough to likely prevent reactions with cross contamination or allow patients to eat foods with 'may contain' or 'manufactured in'-type labels," added Ponda, who is assistant chief in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Northwell Health, in Great Neck, N.Y. She was not involved with the study.

"This would make a large impact on the lives of patients with peanut allergy who may be afraid to eat outside of the house for fear of cross contamination or have to severely limit their diet due to the difficulty of avoiding products with the above mentioned safety labels," Ponda noted.

The study was to be presented Sunday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting, in Seattle, and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

There are no approved treatments for peanut allergy. If approved by the FDA, this treatment would be available by prescription and patients would need to continue taking it to stay protected from accidental peanut exposure.

More information

Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has more on peanut allergy.

SOURCES: Punita Ponda, M.D., assistant chief, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Northwell Health, Great Neck, N.Y.; American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Nov. 18, 2018

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