Those with aggressive peanut allergies may no longer have to live in fear for much longer. A new treatment that can prevent serious allergic reaction to peanut is getting closer to being approved.
There is a large population of children who must watch what they eat in case they ingest foods that contain peanuts, which could cause death.
California-based Aimmune Therapeutics conducted a study involving 554 patients between the ages of four and 17. Using a peanut allergy treatment called AR101, which is a capsule with peanut protein that is opened and poured onto food, Aimmune's goal is to retrain young people's immune system to deal with peanut when consumed.
Aimmune Therapeutics' treatment against severe peanut allergies works by making the body build tolerance against peanuts. Doctors sprinkled the peanut powder over food to get the patients used to small amounts.
Daily capsules with peanut powder were shown to help build tolerance in children. However, more than one in five patients on the peanut powder quit the study. Treatment on AR101 is reportedly difficult as it requires regular trips to an allergist, and causes stomach aches and other side affects.
By the end of the study, Aimmune Therapeutics says that over 67 percent of children who received the treatment were able to tolerate about two peanuts at the end of the study. Those who were given a placebo powder throughout the study only reached 4 percent.
This protection would equate to a child-size bite of a peanut butter sandwich. It would be enough to prevent the person from going into anaphylactic shock in case of ingestion.
It is expected that the drug would be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Aimmune is planning to file an application for the United States later in the year, and will send one to European regulators in 2019.
Funding the study as a major investor is Nestlé. Food companies use nuts in many of their products, so having a large population of children with food allergies does the food industry no favor.
Combating Peanut Allergies
Last year, national health guidelines were released urging parents to feed infants food containing peanuts to avoid life-threatening peanut allergies. The guidelines recommended giving babies food with peanut powder or extract before they are 6 months old.
This is counter to advice previously given by the medical community. Old guidelines told parents to withhold peanuts from children until the age of 3 years old.
In October 2017, a study showed that peanut allergy in children had increased 21 percent since 2010. It also showed that almost 2.5 percent of children in the United States may have a peanut allergy.