New hope for peanut allergy sufferers thanks to pioneering new study
- New research is offering hope to peanut allergy sufferers.
- A large-scale trial suggests that oral immunotherapy treatment could allow sufferers to increase their tolerance to peanuts.
- The idea is not that those with peanut allergies will be able to eat the nuts freely, but that their reactions could be reduced.
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A pioneering new study is offering new hope to peanut allergy sufferers.
It may be possible to reduce the severity of allergic reactions to peanuts, research published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health suggests.
Peanut allergy is the leading cause of food-related anaphylaxis, the report states, with 6.1 million people suffering from the allergy in the US.
The number of sufferers has soared in recent decades, too, with a 2017 study suggesting prevalence in children had risen 21% since 2010.
The new study involved a trial, called the Artemis trial, undertaken at hospitals across Europe.
175 children with peanut allergies aged 4 to 17 took part in the research, which saw them given either increasing amounts of peanut allergen protein or a placebo every day.
Those who took the peanut protein were given a slightly higher dose every two weeks for six months, after which point the same dose was maintained for three months.
The researchers found that 58% of children who'd taken the peanut protein could tolerate at least three to four peanuts by the end of the trial.
It compared to just 2% of those given the placebo.
The researchers concluded that the treatment "led to rapid desensitization to peanut protein."
The research does not suggest peanut allergy sufferers will soon be able to eat peanut butter by the spoonful, however the researchers hope it could mean less severe reactions from accidental exposure to the nuts.
One participant, James Redman, 12, told The Times that he can now tolerate up to seven peanuts after previously suffering severe reactions to any peanut traces.
"Taking part in the study was the greatest opportunity of my life," he said.
"The nurses and doctors were really caring and great fun. I didn't mind the taste of the peanut protein as I got to mix it with chocolate pudding which was great.
"I really hope the study leads to a treatment so that other children with a peanut allergy can benefit."
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