New research shows promise for those with peanut allergies

Research into a new technique shows it may decrease a person’s sensitivity to a food to which they are allergic.

It’s called sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT. In short, it means placing a tiny amount of allergenic material (in this case, peanut) under the allergic person’s tongue (under medical supervision, of course). The study was one of the first randomized studies to test the safety and potential success of SLIT as a treatment for peanut allergy. It was conducted by the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) and supported by  the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The study was conducted on 40 people with peanut allergies, ages 12 to 37, who previously were on a peanut-free diet. As part of a baseline challenge, researchers measured how much peanut powder each person could consume without having an allergic reaction. Half of the participants then received 44 weeks of daily SLIT therapy while the other half received a placebo. Following the therapy, they were given a second challenge.

Of the 20 participants in the SLIT group, 14 were able to eat at least 10 times more peanut powder than during the initial test. In the placebo group, only three people consumed more powder, according to NIAID.

Researchers hope SLIT eventually could protect those with peanut allergies in case they accidentally are exposed to peanut, according to NIAID.

However, they caution people against trying SLIT on their own as there is a serious risk for allergic reactions.

An estimated 3.5 to 4 percent of adults and 6 to 8 percent of children have food allergies and these numbers are only increasing, according to the latest research.

Roughly 90 percent of all food allergic reactions are caused by eight foods: peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, crustaceans, fish and tree nuts, such as hazelnuts and walnuts. Of those, peanuts are the leading cause of severe allergic reactions caused by food.

If a person with food allergies eats an allergenic food or food containing even miniscule amounts of allergenic protein, it may trigger an immune response. These allergic reactions can range from mild symptoms, such as hives, to severe gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, including throat swelling and difficulty breathing.

The most severe reaction is anaphylactic shock, which can carry the symptoms of an allergic reaction, but is coupled with a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Anaphylactic shock can be fatal.

For the full story from NIAID, click here.

For previous Neogen blog posts on food allergies, click here.

For a breakdown of what food allergies are and aren’t, click here.

Comments are closed.