Immune-Based Therapy Could Be Key for Peanut Allergy Treatment in Kids

Each year in the United States, about 200,000 people require emergency medical attention for allergic reactions to food. And once a serious allergic reaction begins, according to Food Allergy Research & Education, the drug epinephrine, or adrenaline, is the only effective treatment. Those kinds of numbers can be frightening to loved ones of especially youngsters with food allergies. In addition, between 1997 and 2008, "the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in U.S. children." While there are a plethora of potential causes for this increase, it's garnered enough attention to warrant the search for an effective peanut allergy treatment.

California-based Aimmune Therapeutics recently stated that its practice of giving daily capsules of peanut flour helped sensitize children to nuts in a new study. According to the Associated Press and USA Today, doctors have been testing the use of peanut flour for years, through capsule form and sprinkling over food to prevent developing life-threatening reactions to peanut allergies.

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The study included about 500 kids ranging in ages from 4 to 17 with "severe peanut allergies" over a year period. To begin, the children were given capsules of peanut flour or a dummy powder "in gradually increasing amounts for six months" and remained at the final level of increase for another six months. Participants and doctors did not know which patients received which capsules until the study ended.

During the course of the study, about 20 percent of the kids receiving peanut powder dropped out of the study and 12 percent did so due to reactions or other problems. Independent experts haven't reviewed the study yet, so the only information comes from the company internally. However, they do plan to file for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for treatment by the end of 2018 and European approval by 2019.

Not too long ago, a study was published showing that children with early exposure to peanuts and nuts through daily doses did not suffer a severe allergic reaction later in life, but because allergies are a part of an individual's makeup, it can be hard to assign the one-size-fits-all approach. It's important to note that none of these treatment are considered a cure because allergy treatment is a huge food challenge for researchers. Parents should consult an allergy specialist before undergoing any treatment that could result in bad reactions or negative side effects.

Watch: Ever Tried Peanuts in Coke?

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