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Peanut Allergy Drug Offers Hope For Children Allergic To Nuts

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The first drug that can help people with peanut allergy may soon become available.

California-based Aimmune Therapeutics revealed on Tuesday, Feb. 20, that its capsules of peanut flour have been effective in desensitizing allergic children to nuts.

Peanut Allergy Drug

Aimmune Therapeutics said that in a major study involving 500 children with severe peanut allergies, 67 percent of those who received the experimental treatment was able to tolerate the equivalent of about two peanuts at the end of the study period. Only 4 percent of those who received dummy powder was able to tolerate this dosage.

How It Works

The participants, who were between 4 and 17 years old, received either capsules of peanut flour or a dummy powder in gradually increasing amounts. The oral drug called AR101 is sprinkled over food every day in the hope that patients who consume small doses of peanut protein will eventually become desensitized.

"It's great to have patients go from managing to tolerate at most the amount of peanut protein in a tenth of a peanut without reacting to successfully eating the equivalent of between two to four peanuts with nothing more than mild, transient symptoms, if any at all," said A. Wesley Burks, from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and one of the investigators in the PALISADE trial.

There are millions of children with peanut allergies and some have allergies so severe that exposure to peanuts can lead to potentially fatal allergic reactions. Researchers have been looking for ways to prevent these such as giving daily doses of peanut flour to allergic kids to improve their tolerance.

Warning For Those With Peanut Allergy

While the result of the study shows promise for this kind of treatment, experts warned those with peanut allergy not to try this particular treatment at home. The product is also not a cure and it isn't yet clear what would happen to those who stop the treatment.

"It's potentially dangerous," said allergy specialist Stacie Jones, from the University of Arkansas. "This is investigational. It has to be done in a very safe setting."

In the PALISADE study, 20 percent of the kids receiving the peanut powder dropped out and 12 percent of these kids left due to reactions or other problems. Nonetheless, the investigators said that the result showed off the product's overall safety.

The company plans to seek U.S approval for the drug by the end of this year.

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