Possible breakthrough in peanut allergy cure

  • 29/01/2015

Staff at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne have been trying to find a cure for peanut and potentially other food allergies.

In the study, researchers mixed a probiotic, which is a type of helpful bacteria, with peanut protein.

Twenty-three children were given an increasing daily dose of what's known as oral immunotherapy for an 18-month period.

Immunology professor Graham Le Gros says the process makes sure the children aren’t given too much too fast.

"If you give them all at once at the beginning they'll die, and so you start building up and up until they tolerise themselves to it."

Associate Professor Mimi Tang says the results were compelling – it worked on more than 80 percent of the children who received the peanut probiotic therapy.

The girls no longer have to carry an EpiPen, but it's not clear whether the tolerance will last over the longer term.

Allergy New Zealand says around 3 percent of 12- to 15-month-olds are allergic to peanuts, and of these children, one-fifth grow out of it.

But a peanut allergy still affects 2 percent of the population.

Prof Le Gros, who's been researching allergic diseases for two decades, says allergies are on the rise.

"It's unbelievable and I feel sorry for the people because there's not a lot of support. It's catching us by surprise. We are cleaner, better, healthier in many ways, so why do we have an epidemic of allergic diseases?"

Prof Le Gros says allergies are becoming a disability for many.

He wants more work done to make desensitisation therapy, like that seen in Melbourne, more effective and cheaper. 

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source: newshub archive