A major study involving the use of capsules with controlled doses of peanut powder may soon help people with severe peanut allergies increase their tolerance to allergic reactions. Doctors at Aimmune Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in California, have revealed that the treatment they have devised has managed to help children in their experiments increase their tolerances to the legume crop.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the initial clinical trials had involved nearly 500 kids aged four to 17. All of the participants had varying degrees of peanut allergies and were divided into two groups. Some participants reportedly suffered from severe reactions when exposed to even a 10th of a peanut. One group had received a daily dose of the peanut-infused capsules, while the other group received capsules with dummy powder.
Each of the capsules given each day had controlled amounts of peanut powder, which was then gradually increased throughout the treatment. The doctors and the participants involved in the experiment were not made aware of who was getting the placebo capsules until the study had concluded. In their findings, the company revealed that 67 percent of the children that were given the actual treatment dramatically increase their tolerance to peanuts and peanut-infused foods. This is compared to just four percent for those that received the placebo treatment.
The treatment itself is still far from perfect as 12 percent of the participants receiving the capsules with the peanut powder had to drop out due to adverse reactions or other issues. However, the doctors believe that their treatment still has an “overall good safety” rating despite the dropouts. The experiment also revealed that exposing babies to peanut-containing foods such as peanut butter or peanut treats may help them build-up their immunity early on. However, experts are advising that parents should contact their doctors first before exposing their babies to foods containing peanuts.
The company is currently trying to get the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval for the treatment. Experts, such as Dr. Stacy Dorris of Vanderbilt University, don’t expect the treatment to cure peanut allergies forever, but it may instead provide a much-needed relief for those who are suffering serious peanut allergies. Millions of people in the United States are severely allergic to peanuts, with some even in danger of suffering from fatal reactions if they are accidentally exposed.