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Individuals Allergic to Sesame Could be Desensitized Using Emerging Oral Desensitization Treatment

AAAAI News Release

February 3, 2023

April Presnell, Media & Member Communications Manager
(414) 272-6071

Research to be presented at the 2023 AAAAI Annual Meeting examines the effectiveness and safety of using oral desensitization for sesame-allergic patients.

Milwaukee, WI - Oral desensitization to sesame can be both safe and effective when using crushed sesame seeds and tahini, new research being presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) suggests.

“The safety data we collected was encouraging,” said Ami Shah, MD, primary author of the study. “During desensitization, 29.1% of the participants experienced allergic reactions of some kind while undergoing daily dosing, but only one allergic reaction required the use of epinephrine, showing that this oral desensitization treatment can be safely done under the right conditions with a qualified healthcare professional.”

While oral desensitization is an emerging treatment for food allergies, little research has been completed in the United States on using this method for sesame.  Researchers completed a retrospective chart review of 86 pediatric patients at a pediatric food allergy referral center who were receiving oral desensitization to sesame. Participants underwent an initial low dose oral food challenge (OFC) to crushed sesame seeds or tahini. Doses were increased until participants reached the maintenance dose, typically of one teaspoon of tahini or 1,000 mg of sesame. Of the participants, 59.3% made it to the maintenance dose, while 30.2% were still working towards maintenance at the time of this study’s completion. Nine patients (10.5%) did not complete desensitization.

In the end, ten of the participants who reached the maintenance dose were able to complete a full dose OFC to one tablespoon of tahini (3,000 mg of sesame protein). All ten participants had a negative OFC then discontinued daily sesame dosing for between four and six weeks before undergoing another OFC. All 10 reported a negative OFC.

“Our data suggests that there is a significant number of pediatric sesame-allergic patients who could achieve remission of their sesame allergy, or at least have their diet liberalized, in a safe and effective way,” said Dr. Shah. “Future studies should be aimed at better understanding sesame allergy thresholds, identifying biomarkers that can help distinguish sesame-allergic patients who will tolerate OIT, and determine the impact that OIT to sesame may have on a patient and their family’s quality of life.”

Visit to learn more about sesame allergy. Research presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting, February 24-27 in San Antonio, Texas, is published in an online supplement to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is the leading membership organization of more than 7,100 allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. The AAAAI is the go-to resource for patients living with allergies, asthma and immune deficiency disorders. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 7,100 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.