Food Allergy Reactions Can Be Drastically Reduced With This Existing Asthma Drug

Research shows promising results for those with extreme reactions.
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Peanut, shellfish, and other food allergies are no joke ― they can sometimes prove fatal for those who have the condition.

More commonly, those with an extreme reaction to allergens can experience a swollen tongue, tight throat, and rashes.

However research recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine appears to offer promising results; they found that the asthma medication omalizumab can help to protect people with severe allergies from extreme, deadly reactions.

The study, which involved three adults and 177 children with severe food allergies, found that after four months of treatment, 67% of those who had taken the medication were able to eat the equivalent of two or three peanuts (the allergen changed per allergy) without becoming severely ill.

By contrast, 7% of those who did a placebo trial were able to do the same after the four-month trial.

Which allergies does it work for?

Omalizumab was tested on people with allergies to peanuts, cashews, milk, eggs, walnuts, wheat, and hazelnuts.

It seemed to prove equally effective amongst all allergies it was tested on.

The study author Robert Wood, a paediatric allergy specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that “it theoretically should work as well for any different food allergy that that person has” ― potentially including non-food reactions, like autoimmune conditions and eczema.

To be clear, the medication did not remove the allergy completely ― it simply made those with extreme reactions to their allergen suffer less when they did react, preventing a potential catastrophe.

“The biggest worry is that patients may be assuming that their protection from food reactions is pretty complete,” Wood told Nature.

Omalizumab is a monoclonal antibody; researchers are looking into whether another monoclonal antibody, dupilumab, which is currently used to treat atopic dermatitis, could also help those with food allergies.

These studies may prove to be good news for those with bad allergies.