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A landmark new treatment could offer new hope to children with deadly nut allergies.
Researchers in Australia claim to have made a “major step forward” with a new oral treatment which cured dozens of children of a peanut allergy for several years.
According to the scientists, it “provides the strongest evidence yet” that a cure for nut allergies may be possible.
The original trial gave a probiotic containing a peanut protein to children for a period of 18 months. The first batch of results, in 2013, found 82 per cent of children who received the immunotherapy were tolerant to peanuts.
Four years later, around 80 per cent of the children can still eat peanuts as part of their normal diet without a reaction – showing the treatment has a “long lasting effect”.
The trial was carried out at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Victoria.
Professor Mimi Tang, who pioneered the probiotic and peanut immunotherapy (PPOIT) treatment, said: “PPOIT was associated with long-lasting ability to tolerate peanut four years after stopping the treatment.
“These children had been eating peanut freely in their diet without having to follow any particular program of peanut intake in the years after treatment was completed.
“Over half were consuming moderate to large amounts of peanut on a regular basis, others were only eating peanut infrequently.
“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 peanut.
“We are now examining whether these beneficial effects of our novel treatment have also resulted in improved quality of life.”
She added: “It also suggests the exciting possibility that tolerance is a realistic target for treating food allergy. This is a major step forward in identifying an effective treatment to address the food allergy problem in Western societies.”
If the results are confirmed in a larger next-stage study, the breakthrough could spark a shift in the way peanut allergies are managed.
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