Scientists may have discovered a cure for peanut allergies after a treatment administered four years ago has proven to still be effective in patients.
In 2013 a group of children with peanut allergies took part in a study at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia.
Half the children were given a probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy (PPOIT) believed to halt the allergy, while the other half were given a placebo.
At the end of the 2013 experiment, more than 80% of children who received the combination therapy no longer presented allergy symptoms, compared to less than 4% of the placebo group.
Now, a follow up study has shown the majority of children who received the combination treatment still do not appear to be allergic to peanuts.
According to the MCRI, peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis - a life-threatening allergic reaction - in the world.
At the end of the 2013 trial, 82% of children who received the oral immunotherapy (PPOIT) were deemed tolerant to peanuts.
Those children were instructed to introduce the nut to their regular diet, while children who remained intolerant continued to avoid the nut.
In the recent follow up trial, 80% of the children who gained tolerance are still consuming peanuts as part of their regular diet and 70% passed a further test designed to determine long-term tolerance to peanuts.
Professor Mimi Tang, who pioneered PPOIT, said her team will now research whether the children who’ve benefitted from the treatment report “improved quality of life”.
“These findings suggest our treatment is effective at inducing long-term tolerance, up to four years after completing treatment, and is safe,” she added.
“It also suggests the exciting possibility that tolerance is a realistic target for treating food allergy. This is a major step forward in identifying an effective treatment to address the food allergy problem in Western societies.”
The latest study is published in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.