The millions of people with peanut allergies, and their parents, know only too well the hassle of constantly carrying around an epi pen, strenuously quizzing waiters and takeout delivery people, and closely reading ingredient lists on boxes and cans. A new study may point to some actual relief for these allergy sufferers, showing that 2/3rds of kids who received small doses of peanut flour were eventually able to eat the equivalent of two peanuts by the end of the study.
involved nearly 500 kids ages 4 to 17 with severe peanut allergies. They were given either capsules of peanut flour or a dummy powder in gradually increasing amounts for six months, then continued on that final level for another six months. Neither the participants nor their doctors knew who was getting what until the study ended.
By the end of the study, 67 percent of the kids who had received the peanut flour could tolerate the equivalent of two peanuts, compared to 4 percent of those who received the dummy powder.
The Times stresses that this is definitely a don’t-try-this-at-home situation, as peanut exposure to those with allergies can be deadly. Some kids dropped out of the study due to severe reactions to the peanut flour (which made some investors wary, according to the Financial Times). Which is what makes it such a big deal that this study is the first to suggest that a treatment that could “help prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts may be on the way,” as the Times describes it.
Dr. Andrew Bird, an allergy specialist who consults for Aimmune “said the treatment doesn’t enable children to eat peanuts as if they had no allergy, but the research suggests that being able to tolerate at least one peanut should protect 95 percent of them from having a reaction if they are exposed to peanuts.” Obviously, Aimmune has a great stake in positive outcome of this study; the company’s next step is to seek approval for the treatment from the U.S. Food And Drug Administration.