Breakthrough in treatment for peanut allergies

Peanuts is the most common allergy in the world, and requires constant vigilance on the part of sufferers
Peanuts is the most common allergy in the world, and requires constant vigilance on the part of sufferers

"May contain traces of peanut" is one of the most common health warnings, and for millions of people around the world it can mean the difference between a simple snack and a medical emergency. However, a recent breakthrough in research has identified an oral treatment that can successfully reduce patients' sensitivity to peanuts, and may prove a life-changing development for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

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19 November 2018 | 0

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A large-scale peanut allergy treatment trial, headed by a team at University College Cork, has found that a new oral treatment can successfully reduce sensitivity to peanuts. The breakthrough has the potential to offer a lifeline to those affected by the world’s most common food allergy and the single cause of most food allergy deaths.

Jonathan Hourihan, professor of paediatrics at University College Cork, has co-authored the trial’s findings, published in the New England Journal of Medecine, which show that more than two-thirds of those trialled could tolerate peanuts after the treatment. The tolerance can give peanut allergy sufferers the ability to cope with accidential exposure – such as our old friend “may contain traces of peanut”.

“Up to now,” Hourihane says, “without any treatment available, peanut allergy has put children and adults at risk of unpredictable and occasionally life-threatening reactions. The AR101 immunotherapy is a real breakthrough for those affected by peanut allergy.”

The AR101 treatment works by introducing initially minute-controlled amounts of peanut protein, with escalation over a sustained period of six to 12 months, building up a patient’s tolerance to peanut. Following treatment, patients have gone from being highly allergic to very small doses to being able to manage to eat the equivalent of two or three peanuts without a significant reaction.

“This is a game changer for anyone living with this allergy,” said Prof. Hourihane.

The AR101 immunotherapy will be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a Biologics License Application by the end of 2018. Assuming subsequent approval by the European Medicines Agency in 2019, AR101 could be available to patients around the world by late 2019.

 

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