Breakthrough could help peanut allergy sufferers

Breakthrough could help peanut allergy sufferers

A patch for peanut allergies could be just months away as trials on humans in the United States have been approved to enter their final phase.

The breakthrough could mean peanut allergy sufferers in New Zealand will be able to dispense with EpiPens, which are expensive and difficult to use.

Half the participants who wore a peanut allergy patch for US researchers ended up able to eat a few peanuts.

Assuming the patch gets final approval, allergies expert Dr Vincent Crump says it will make the world of difference to the 3 percent of the population with peanut allergies.

"If they can now tolerate even small amounts of peanut then it removes even that small risk of anaphylaxis," says Dr Crump.

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction, when the body goes into shock. That's what happened when Loz Colwill ordered from BurgerFuel Parnell last week. She says despite twice getting reassurances there were no peanuts in her burger, she went into anaphylactic shock.

"My partner drove me into hospital," says Ms Colwill. "Got there, had some adrenaline, had my heart rate monitored for a couple of hours. It was pretty horrible but it wasn't as bad as it could have been had the hospital been not so close by."

BurgerFuel has publicly apologised, phoned and launched an investigation into its processes and the Colwills are happy with its response. In fact, it's one of the few outlets that already displays lists of its ingredients. Some restaurants simply refuse to serve her.

The new patches would alleviate the reaction suffered by Ms Colwell and others with a peanut allergy. It would also mean they wouldn't have to pay more than $100 a year for an EpiPen, which is used to treat anaphylaxis.

Ms Colwill says if just one person realised that peanut allergies were serious, felt some empathy and schooled themselves up, then it would be worthwhile.

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