Successful UK trial for peanut desensitisation

A trial at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, UK, involving 21 young people, has had significant results meaning that many people who had been living with the fear of fatal reactions to peanuts are now able to tolerate small amounts. Of the 21, 19 can now eat five peanuts a day, as a ‘maintenance’ dose, and the remaining two are able to tolerate two to three peanuts a day.

The trial, led by Dr Andrew Clark, followed a small successful trial in 2009. The desensitisation involved a careful regimen of feeding chocolate containing peanut flour in gradually increasing doses to patients with severe peanut allergies. The treatment was carried out at Addenbrookes clinical research facility, and six months on the treatment has continued to be effective.

Considering 1% to 2% of young children are affected by peanut allergy, this treatment is a significant breakthrough. Reactions to peanut can vary from slight rashes to fatal anaphylaxis. The team at Addenbrookes are also developing a basophil activation test to enable them to identify those children for whom the treatment didn’t work, and to try and determine why.

Source: Cambridge News

First published in November 2011

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