Australian researchers have made a breakthrough in the treatment of peanut allergy in children. A small clinical trial conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has led to two-thirds of children treated with an experimental immunotherapy treatment being cured of their allergy. Importantly, this desensitisation to peanuts persisted for up to four years after treatment.
“These children had been eating peanut freely in their diet without having to follow any particular program of peanut intake in the years after treatment was completed,” said the lead researcher, Prof Mimi Tang.
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, and one of the most common causes of death from food allergy.
To combat this Tang, an immunologist and allergist, pioneered a new form of treatment that combines a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy, known as PPOIT. Instead of avoiding the allergen, the treatment is designed to reprogram the immune system’s response to peanuts and eventually develop a tolerance.
Forty-eight children were enrolled in the PPOIT trial and were randomly given either a combination of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus with peanut protein in increasing amounts, or a placebo, once daily for 18 months.
At the end of the original trial in 2013, 82% of children who received the immunotherapy treatment were deemed tolerant to peanuts compared with just 4% in the placebo group. Four years later, the majority of the children who gained initial tolerance were still eating peanuts as part of their normal diet and 70% passed a further challenge test to confirm long-term tolerance.
Source : The Guardian