New Peanut Allergy Drug Could Be Potentially Lifesaving

Peanuts on a table
dinosmichail / Shutterstock

A peanut allergy is one of the most common and most severe allergies that affect the population today. People who suffer with it could have varying reactions to the nut, but some are so severe that even coming into contact with other people who have recently consumed peanuts could trigger anaphylactic shock. ‘

However, a new peanut allergy drug may help to change this for youngsters. According to the New York Times, a new clinical trial has shown promising results when it comes to reducing children’s sensitivity to peanuts.

The drug, which is an oral immunotherapy regimen, slowly exposes children to peanut protein over the course of six months, in carefully measured amounts so as to avoid triggering a severe reaction. The goal of this drug is not to cure peanut allergies, but rather to build up a tolerance to peanuts in people who suffer from the allergy so that contact with trace amounts of the nut do not trigger full-blown anaphylaxis.

At a conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Seattle on Sunday, the results of the study were shared, and they showed promise of a drug that could, for the first time, ameliorate the reactions of children dealing with nut allergies.

Following the first six months of treatment, two-thirds of the 372 children receiving the treatment were able to “ingest 600 milligrams or more of peanut protein” without triggering an allergic reaction. This is the equivalent of two peanuts, and could change the lives of children with severe allergies that require them to avoid anything with a label that warns that products “could contain traces of peanuts.”

However, the study also concluded that the drug did not work for everyone, and some children suffered from severe side effects as a result of the drug as well.

Still, the study has shown promising results and could bring peace of mind to parents of peanut allergy sufferers that may have been elusive since their child’s diagnosis.

Michael Perkin, a clinical epidemiologist and pediatric allergy consultant at the University of London, noted that aside from the physical relief, the drug could also bring major psychological relief.

“Psychologically, it makes a massive difference if you can keep your kid from living in fear. These kids can eat enough peanut that parents no longer will have to worry about their teenage daughter kissing someone who’s eaten peanut butter. You cannot estimate what a psychological relief that is.”

Some children may need to keep up the treatment throughout their lives, and it certainly won’t cure their allergies. But it means that accidentally ingesting a peanut won’t trigger a visit to the emergency room with a life-threatening attack. As for adults, however, a similar study proved to be ineffective.