Nut allergy study shows hope of cure

New trial successfully cures peanut allergies in kids

Scientists are one step closer to curing nut allergies following the success of a clinical trial.

Over a six-month period a team from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge exposed four children with a severe peanut allergy to small daily doses of peanut flour mixed into yoghurt, gradually building up their tolerance.

By the end the children were eating the equivalent of five peanuts a day without suffering a life-threatening reaction.

Peanut allergies affect one in 50 young people in the UK and commonly cause breathing problems. But at their most serious, they can lead to anaphylactic shock.

Dr Andy Clark, who led the research published in the journal Allergy, said: ‘Every time people with a peanut allergy want something, they’re frightened that it might kill them. Our motivation was to find a treatment that would change that and give them the confidence to eat what they like. It’s all about quality of life.

‘It’s not a permanent cure, but as long as they go on taking a daily dose they should maintain their tolerance.’

Kate Frost, the mother of a nine-year-old who was one of the four participants, said: ‘It’s very hard to describe how much of a difference it’s made – not just in Michael’s life, but for all of us. A peanut allergy affects the whole family. You can’t go out to a restaurant. If your child goes to a birthday party, he takes a packed lunch.’

The concept of desensitising people to allergies has been successfully done with bee and wasp stings and pollen allergies. But it is the first time a food allergy has been successfully desensitised in such a way, although a longer-term follow up is now needed to confirm the findings.

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