Kiwis to benefit from peanut allergy treatment

  • Breaking
  • 31/01/2014

A treatment for children with life threatening peanut allergies may have been found – by making sufferers eat them.

The new therapy has been tested in the UK, where children are given small amounts of peanut protein to train their immune systems to tolerate the nut.

Nine-year-old Amy Chong is extremely allergic to peanuts, and that means her mother's weekly trip to the supermarket is more like a trip to the library.

"Lots of times I get frustrated because even when the food doesn't have peanuts, there may be a traces warning," says Amy's mother Nicola Clissold.

But that could soon change after UK scientists developed a new therapy.

Increasing doses of peanut protein were extracted and fed to 99 children aged between seven to 16.  After six months, over 80 percent could tolerate 800mg of peanut protein – which is the equivalent of eating five peanuts a day.

Treatment recipient Lena Barden says she was never able to eat donuts.

"Now I've tried a donut and it's my favourite food!" she says.  

The aim is not to fully cure sufferers, but to prevent them from having life-threatening reactions if they accidentally come in contact with peanuts.

"This is a well-known treatment for other allergies so we know it works, but there has been real reluctance to try this with foods especially with peanuts because of the perception that it's a very severe disease," says Dr Andrew Clark, Cambridge University researcher.

Allergy NZ says this is a breakthrough for the 3 percent of Kiwis who suffer from peanut allergies.

"It gives them hope that one day there might be change. You've got to understand the stress these children, their parents, their schools are under in managing these allergies," says Allergy NZ CEO Mark Dixon.

But Kiwis will have to wait. UK researchers say further trials are needed and it could be five years before treatment is more widely available.

Anyone in need of advice or support with treatment of allergies is advised to visit

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