If you have peanut allergies, the best advice you usually get is to strictly avoid eating it as well as other foods containing the offending legume as the ingredient. Aside from that, you need to bring your rescue medication with you at all times. However, the experts have this new immunotherapy treatment – if approved, could become the first ever drug to treat peanut allergy in children.
According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers created a treatment called AR101 together with the Aimmune Therapeutics that aims to increase the amount of peanut protein for the child and increase their tolerance to prevent them from displaying allergy symptoms. The study was conducted on 500 kids and teens from ages 4-17 years old which received a random treatment (either a peanut powder-filled capsule or placebo) mixed in with their food.
The researchers gradually increased the amount of protein powder on their food at the end of their year-long trial and found 67% of children were able to consume 600mg of peanut protein without triggering an allergic reaction.
Most kids who suffer from peanut allergy experience skin reaction like redness, runny nose and shortness of breath.
50% of the children could tolerate consuming up to 1000mg of protein by the end of the study. According to Purvi Parikh, MD, at Allergy and Asthma Network, the strategy the researchers implemented in the study is called oral immunotherapy.
This is the process of introducing small doses of an allergen to our body, making the immune system less reactive until our body becomes immune to that specific allergen. The researchers then increase the dosage, so you’ll develop an immunity, like the process of building resistance to poison.
Dr. Parikh emphasized though that this type of medication cannot eliminate your peanut allergy completely. Rather, it can help you lower the risk of having severe or potentially life-threatening allergic reactions when you have an accidental encounter or exposure to peanuts. Since you’ve been partially exposed to an allergen, it’ll help alleviate your allergic reaction which isn’t only beneficial from a health standpoint.
It also helps in alleviating your anxiety to prevent a panic attack. Those children who aren’t exposed to a low dosage of peanut protein can encounter a deadly and life-threatening situation if there’s an accidental exposure.
Most people can easily make some DIY peanut protein powders and butter for consumption.
Meanwhile, Michael R. Perkin, Ph.D. of London’s Population Health Research Institute says giving peanut protein to the children with peanut allergies participating in the study wasn’t without incident. He emphasized it was difficult to desensitize the patients.
According to him, more than 11% of the participants dropped out before they completed the study. Meanwhile, 14% of those who continued the study needed to use epinephrine shots to quiet their allergic reactions to the treatment. Although, he adds the allergic reaction most children experienced were mild. For instance, one child experienced anaphylaxis. While most people can just concoct their own peanut powder, the health experts advise against trying oral immunotherapy unsupervised at home.
Dr. Parikh also says those people who have diagnosed their allergies might be unsuitable to try oral immunotherapy. He emphasizes no two immune systems are exactly the same. Those people who are highly allergic may not tolerate the buildup phase.
Moreover, he adds it remains unclear how long the protection from severe peanut allergy reactions would last. Do you need to eat small doses of peanuts every day to avoid getting an allergic reaction in the future?
Whether or not the study will be successful, the health experts recommend you consume nut-free butter like Coconut butter or Tahini as healthier food alternatives.
Is it sustainable as a long-term solution? Future studies must be conducted to answer these questions according to Dr. Parikh. Despite these caveats, the new treatment opens up opportunities for parents and experts alike to lessen the number of people having peanut allergies, or at least outgrow this health condition. The researchers also plan to conduct follow-up studies and clinical trials to get the FDA‘s approval to manufacture the said drug in the near future.
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