An experimental drug against peanut allergy protects people from “accidental ingestions”. Tests reveal peanut-allergic individuals could tolerate as much as two peanuts.
Among food allergies, peanut allergies are one of the most common and most difficult to treat.
Over 3 million Americans suffer from an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts. Because peanuts are present in a wide variety of food items, the exposure risk to peanut allergens is great.
In allergic people, peanuts can lead to anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can be fatal.
Until scientists come up with a definitive cure to peanut allergies, it’s also critical to protect individuals, especially children, from accidental exposure to peanuts.
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta (GA) conducted a months-long trial on a new treatment.
News That’s Worth its Weight in Peanuts
Emory researchers tested an experimental oral immunotherapy treatment against the accidental ingestion of peanuts on hundreds of individuals with peanut allergy.
551 peanut-allergic patients from ten countries aged 4-55 years, most between 4 to 17 years old, participated in the study.
Two-thirds of participants ingested peanut protein powder at increasing doses with the remaining patients in the placebo group.
Results of the trial show that about two out of three participants (67.2%) who took the peanut powder tolerated as much as a two peanuts dose (600 mg) demonstrating no or mild symptoms.
Some patients could tolerate an even higher dose of 1000mg and stay on it for the duration of the study.
As researchers point out, this is not a cure that provides “a quick fix” to peanut allergy as patients can’t go eat peanuts freely.
“But it is definitely a breakthrough. The hope would be to have a treatment available in the second half of 2019. If that happens, people who receive and are able to tolerate this treatment should be protected from accidental exposures.”
Awaiting FDA Approval
It’s Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical startup based in California, that developed the experimental drug, called AR101, and funded the research.
The firm specializes in developing treatments for food allergies based on its trademark CODIT approach (Characterized Oral Desensitization ImmunoTherapy).
Basically, the approach seeks “to provide meaningful levels of protection against allergic reactions resulting from accidental exposure to food allergens by desensitizing patients with defined, precise amounts of key allergens.”
AR101 is the company’s first product.
Armed with these promising results that crown years of work, Aimmune announced that it will submit an application in December to get the FDA’s approval and start marketing AR101 in the United States and Europe.