The trial expanded on previous research by senior author and Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health Associate Professor Tim Chataway, who discovered that heat changes the protein structure and allergic properties of peanuts, making them less likely to cause a severe allergic reaction.
Oral Immunotherapy Helps Overcome Peanut Allery
“Small and increasing doses of boiled nuts were first given to children to partially desensitise them, and when they showed no signs of an allergic reaction, increasing doses of roasted peanuts were then provided to increase their tolerance in the next stage of treatment,” says Dr Chataway.
The researchers requested 70 peanut-allergic children (6-18 years) to consume boiling peanuts for 12 hours for 12 weeks, 2 hours of boiled peanuts for 20 weeks, and roasted peanuts for 20 weeks to achieve this multi-step technique known as oral immunotherapy.
This unique two-step therapy was evaluated with the expectation of subjects swallowing 12 roasted peanuts without allergic responses regularly.
According to the findings, 56 of the 70 (80%) participants got desensitized to the intended dose of peanuts. Although 43 (61%) of participants reported treatment-related adverse events, just three withdrew from the trial as a result, indicating a favorable safety profile.
Associate Professor Luke Grzeskowiak of Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, the study’s lead author, says that with up to 3% of children in Western countries suffering from peanut allergies, this clinical trial could help develop a novel treatment pathway to reduce the risk of accidental peanut exposure and significantly improve quality of life for peanut-allergic children and their caregivers.
Safe and Effective Method for Treatment of Peanut Allergy
“Our clinical trial shows promising early signs in demonstrating that boiling peanuts may provide a safe and effective method for treating peanut-allergic children with sequential doses of boiled and roasted peanuts over an extended period,” says Associate Professor Grzeskowiak, Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation Fellow in Medicines Use and Safety.
“With no currently approved treatment for peanut allergy in Australia there is a lot more research to be done. Unfortunately, oral immunotherapy does not work for everyone, and we are in the process of improving our understanding of how these treatments work and what factors can influence how people respond to treatment. This will be important for assessing individual suitability for treatment and improving treatment decisions in the future.”
The study was carried out in partnership with Paediatric Allergist Dr Billy Tao, who has spent the last decade inventing the unique desensitisation approach to treat peanut allergies after being inspired by similar studies in the 1990s.
The study’s authors conclude that, while these findings show significant potential for making current techniques of oral immunotherapy safer and more effective, validation in a larger definitive clinical trial is required.
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