Researchers' breakthrough in treatment of deadly peanut allergies in children

Faith Castro
August 17, 2017

It involves children being given a combination of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a bacteria commonly found in healthy female genital tracts and yogurt and dairy products, and a peanut protein.

"At the end of treatment, and even four years later, many of these children who had benefited from our probiotic peanut therapy could now live like a child who didn't have peanut allergy".

Australia's ABC reports that in a new study, 82% of participants saw their peanut allergies cured within the first 18 months of treatment.

In a small but long-term medical trial by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, two thirds of children were cured of their allergy.

In the recent follow up trial, 80% of the children who gained tolerance are still consuming peanuts as part of their regular diet and 70% passed a further test created to determine long-term tolerance to peanuts.

Worldwide, 250 million people are affected by peanut allergies and there has been an increase of 350 percent over the last 20 years.

The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute joined with a capital investment firm called OneVentures a year ago to develop the treatment into an FDA-approved product.

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"We had children who came into the study allergic to peanuts, having to avoid peanuts in their diet, being very vigilant around that, carrying a lot of anxiety", said Professor Tang.

The latest study tracked 48 of the 56 children who were enrolled in the original study, four years later. "This is a major step forward in identifying an effective treatment to address the food allergy problem in Western societies".

It's the most common cause of the life-threatening allergic reaction anaphylaxis, and one of the most common causes of death from food allergy.

Mimi Tang, the lead scientist on the work, said the tolerance had staying power for the children in the trials.

"The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanuts like children who don't have peanut allergy and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanuts", she said.

Tang added she hopes as a result of the study, a product can be on the market in the next 5 years.

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