Doctors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge have announced that peanut oral immunotherapy might be effective in the treatment of peanut allergy.
A large clinical trial in which children with a peanut allergy were initially given small doses of peanut protein – equivalent to 1/70th of a peanut – to eat on a daily basis with the doses increased slowly during the trial has found that 84% of the tested allergic children could eat the equivalent of 5 peanuts a day after six months.
Whilst these initial studies are promising for future treatments, experts have advised that this therapy is not yet ready for widespread use leaving many sufferers having to continue to avoid peanuts completely with a lifetime of checking food labels and being aware of what others in close proximity are eating.
The idea behind the treatment is to build up a tolerance to the peanut protein by taking one dose for 2 weeks and increasing it every fortnight with the body gradually learning to tolerate it.
The findings could mean dramatic change to allergy sufferers lives with the ability to eat some of the many food products which contain traces of peanuts. It is the first study of its kind in the world and has had a very positive outcome with quality of life improving after intervention and immunological changes having corresponded with clinical desensitisation.
It is recommended however that people do not try this treatment themselves at home but rather wait for further studies as safety cannot be guaranteed. Proper risk assessment needs to be done to ensure life is not made more dangerous for those receiving the treatment and with 60% of people with a peanut allergy also allergic to other nuts; a carefree lifestyle would rarely be an option.