It seems like a good time to grow up as a child with a peanut allergy, because a new cure is crushing symptoms and giving kids a chance to grow up peanut-allergy free. And it was all thanks to a two and a half year experiment that was kid tested, doctor approved. Much like the way any immunity is built through injections like a flu shot, the cure has been developed by doctors at Addenbrooke Hospital by giving children the very thing they are or were allergic to.
Of course, when the experiment started, patients between seven and 16 years of age were only provided with very small two milligram doses of peanut powder, which was injected into their food. The peanut powder food was eaten after participants had spent the previous two years building up an immunity through a process called “oral immunotherapy” (OIT) where they had to eat four grams of peanuts every day without having a reaction. However, for three months before the experiment began, they were told to avoid eating any peanuts at all. Over time during the experiment, the amount participants were given was increased to 800 mg, and they were observed for dangerous side effects. After six months of testing, 80 percent of the participants were able to enjoy up to five peanuts, which was 25 times more than they had been capable of eating before the experiment began.
What Is the Issue?
While a peanut allergy cure is most certainly a good thing and the experiments do not appear to have caused any harm, it does not change one very proven fact. That is, peanut allergies are one of the most dangerous food allergies that exist. In fact, out of all the food allergy deaths that occur, it is estimated that anywhere between 50 to 62 percent of them were caused by a reaction to peanuts. With this information in mind, should there be a concern that the cure is kid tested, doctor approved? Fortunately, doctors have advised that parents should not attempt to conduct their own home treatments.
While this may sound bad, it is a worst case type of scenario and the two milligram starting amounts of peanut powder were hardly likely to cause any deathly reactions. In fact, out of the 20 participants who initially sampled the peanut powder in their food, 13 did experience reactions while seven of them stayed allergy-free.
Something else that was also interesting was the observed differences of DNA contained in white blood cells from those that suffered a reaction, those that stayed reaction free and a third group of people who had never received OIT. In fact, the DNA extracted from each of the three groups was different from one another. The key observation was that there was a weakness in T-cells for those that had suffered reactions as well as the absence of a certain gene called FOXP3 which helps build a tolerance to allergens. According to Kari Nadeau, a physician scientist from Stanford University, children who are born without FOXP3 have significantly worse allergic reactions.
Peanut allergies have for a long while been a prime cause for concern and products containing peanuts have been banned from a number of schools inside the U.S., as well as other countries. This nutty experiment is certainly insightful and has hopefully crushed some of those fears. As for the kid tested, doctor approved cure; with any success it will perhaps allow both kids and adults with peanut allergies, live a safer and healthier life.
By Jonathan Holowka