Peanut allergies can turn fatal: People who suffer from them know what it's like to munch on them accidentally. However, a treatment to the condition is already out and is being used by some specialist allergy clinics in the UK.
Doctors believe severe peanut allergies can be banished if a powder containing tiny traces of peanut protein is taken regularly by sprinkling on everyday foods, Daily Mail reported.
They believe if patients ingest tiny quantities of nuts over several months, they could gradually build up tolerance. It will help their immune systems become tolerant to them and eventually eradicate the risk of life-threatening reactions.
Though this can be effective, it involves a lot of trial and error. One in 100 people in the UK has peanut allergy and their immune systems treat three types of peanut proteins (Ara h1, Ara h2 and Ara h3) as a threat.
In such people, the immune system releases chemicals to destroy the dangerous invader. It pumps out immunoglobulin E — an antibody — in large volumes to repel the suspected attack. And, this triggers various symptoms of allergic reaction like itchy mouth to anaphylactic shock within seconds.
Anthony Frew, a professor of allergy and respiratory medicine at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, told Daily Mail that the powder could benefit sufferers but the effects might turn out to be temporary.
In that case, he added: "If you stop having the peanut protein daily, tolerance wears off, so you may have to keep consuming this powder forever."
The new medicine — AR101 — is not a food supplement: It's a drug. It's a capsule that contains nut protein in a powder form. It has to be used by cracking it open and sprinkling the flavourless powder on the food.
A trial was earlier conducted on 40 US patients with severe allergies in 2016 for 12 weeks. The dose was increased after a fortnight and participants were told to stop at the first sign of symptoms. Once it was resolved, the doses were increased again.
The results were released at a conference in 2016, and they showed some patients who previously suffered from a severe peanut allergy and couldn't previously tolerate a single peanut were able to eat seven or eight nuts.
A new trial is in the process where more than 500 patients are about to receive similar treatment but over a 20-week period. Researchers are trying to find out if it can bring more tolerance if the process is continued for a longer period of time.