Peanut allergy – a new treatment option on the horizon?
Peanut allergy is one of the most common forms of food allergy, and its prevalence appears to be increasing. Peanut and tree nut allergy account for the vast majority of life-threatening allergic reactions to foods, and treatment options are limited to early recognition of symptoms and prompt epinephrine administration. Oral immunotherapy (OIT) refers to the administration of increasing amounts of an allergen to individuals with IgE-mediated allergy in order to diminish the allergic response to the substance on subsequent encounters.
In a study published in the March 2011 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Varshney et al present findings from the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of OIT in children with peanut allergy. Sixteen of 19 subjects (84%) completed one year of peanut OIT treatment; three (16%) were unable to complete the protocol due to side effects.
After 1 year of treatment, all 16 subjects receiving OIT were able to ingest a significantly greater amount of peanut protein than those receiving placebo. Clinical efficacy was accompanied by peanut-specific immunologic changes. By establishing the safety and efficacy of allergen-specific desensitization, these data support the feasibility of using peanut OIT as an interventional therapy, although additional studies are needed. The present study continues and is evaluating the hypothesis that peanut OIT causes long-term immune tolerance.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is the official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.