Biotech company develops peanut allergy drug

Peanut allergy could be beaten by building up tolerance, study finds

The phase III trial, the results of which were presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual scientific meeting, included 551 participants aged 4-55 years, all of whom were highly allergic to peanuts.

The revolutionary immunotherapy trial in Ireland has shown that more than two thirds of those on the treatment could tolerate peanuts after the trial.

For years, smaller studies have suggested that exposure to escalating amounts of peanut allergen could desensitize people to the potentially life-threatening effects of exposure, which can include anaphylactic shock, but several outside experts said that the large, systematic study of 550 people could lead to the first treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

"Until recently there has been nothing to offer peanut allergy suffers other than education around peanut avoidance and recognition and self-treatment of allergic reactions". A majority of the participants had a history of anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.

"We went back to the clinic every two weeks and the dose was slowly increased".

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It meant most of his young years were spent in a state of vigilance to avoid peanuts, checking ingredients in shop bought foods and not being able to eat birthday cake at Montessori school parties. They emphasized that children who complete the regimen need to continue to eat a peanut-free diet and may need to keep up maintenance therapy with minute doses of peanut, possibly for the rest of their lives.

"Our hope when we started the study was that by treating patients with the equivalent of one peanut per day, many would tolerate as much as two peanuts", he said. "This is a game changer for anyone living with this allergy". At the end of the trial, Two-thirds tolerated the equivalent of two peanuts, which would provide protection against reactions to accidental peanut exposures.

Professor George du Toit, paediatric allergy consultant at Evelina London and the study's chief investigator, said: "Peanut allergy is extremely hard to manage for children and their families, as they have to follow a strict peanut-free diet". "At UChicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, we were thrilled to be part of this pivotal trial and for the opportunity to change the lives of these children and their families".

"Almost 6 million American children are now living with a life-threatening food allergy", said Ciaccio.

Keet said one concern is whether parents and children would understand the limits of the drug.

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