In a long-term trial, an oral treatment for peanut allergy proved effective four years after being administered in children.
Scientists in Australia reported that the immune-based therapy, where the participants were given a probiotic and small peanut amounts every day for 18 months, had helped children dodge reactions for the said time period.
The study followed up on the children enrolled in the immunotherapy treatment, where the probiotic and peanut protein combination sought to slowly train their immune systems to accept the allergen instead of treat it as an enemy.
Such method has been deemed effective in reducing allergic reactions to peanuts. The probiotic enhanced their guts’ ability to accept the peanut and not induce an immune reaction, Time reported.
Eighty-two percent of children who received the therapy were able to tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms, compared to 4 percent who did not receive any treatment. During follow-up, 67 percent of those with the immunotherapy therapy remained comfortable eating peanuts without suffering any allergic effect.
"The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanuts like children who don't have peanut allergy and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanuts," said lead researcher and professor Mimi Tang of Melbourne’s Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
Peanut Allergy In Focus
In recent decades, food allergies have significantly increased, with peanut allergy as one of the deadliest. And while the results proved encouraging, it may be a bit too early to consider it a cure.
For Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn of Mt. Sinai Hospital, probiotics likely enhance the immunotherapy’s impact since they benefit the gut where these allergens are processed.
She warned, however, that there is yet to be hard proof that they make a difference in the case of peanut allergies, pointing out the potential difference between patients treated with both immunotherapy and probiotics, and those treated with just immunotherapy.
The researchers seek to know whether the therapy has improved the patients’ quality of life, and if re-training one’s immune system to be less allergic can indeed be a powerful cure.
The findings have been detailed in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
There is still a certain confusion about when peanuts are safe for intake. These nuts, for instance, are now believed safe to be taken during pregnancy. Health officials advise that in the absence of a family history of allergies or eczema, ground nuts and peanut butter could be eaten after six months.