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‘Breakthrough’ treatment for peanut allergy awaits FDA check

Peanut allergy makes life more difficult for the millions of people who live with it. “Possible traces” of peanuts in foods pose a constant hidden threat for them, but a newly developed treatment could soon help people with peanut allergy become more confident in their food choices.
paper bag with peanuts

Peanut allergy may soon become less of a concern thanks to an effective new treatment.

Information provided last year by specialists from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) indicates that almost 2.5 percent of all children in the United States may live with peanut allergy.
This number represents a 21 percent increase in the number of possible peanut allergies in childhood since 2010, the specialists also found.
A critical challenge for those living with peanut allergy is distinguishing between food products that are 100 percent safe to eat, and those that may trigger an allergy episode.
For some people, the allergy can be significant enough to lead to anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening reaction. Many food items may contain traces of peanuts because the factories that produce them also handle peanuts.
However, a new treatment developed by experts from research institutions across the world hopes to help individuals with this type of food allergy. The treatment aims to build up enough tolerance to peanuts so that people with a peanut allergy can handle accidental exposure without any problems.
“We’re excited about the potential to help children and adolescents with peanut allergy protect themselves against accidentally eating a food with peanut in it,” says study author Dr. Stephen Tilles, who is also past president of ACAAI, and consulting advisor for the biotech company Aimmune Therapeutics.
The researchers presented their results today at the ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting in Seattle, WA. These findings also appear in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Participants see increase in tolerance

“Because there is no approved treatment for peanut allergy, the standard of care has been a strict elimination diet and the timely administration of rescue medications in case of an allergic reaction on accidental exposure,” the study authors write.
“However, despite vigilance, accidental exposures may occur and cause reactions of unpredictable severity, even with small amounts of allergen, leading to a lifelong risk of severe reactions,” they continue.
The recent study tested the effectiveness of a new oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy called AR101, which is “a […] peanut-derived, oral biologic drug that delivers a target daily maintenance dose of 300 [milligrams] of peanut protein,” as the researchers explain in the study paper.