17th August 2017
An Australian oral immunotherapy trial has had life changing effects for a group of children with peanut allergy.
Oral immunotherapy works by slowly introducing small amounts of an allergen like peanut into the diet of a person with an allergy, gradually building up to larger amounts in the hope the immune system learns to tolerate the food.
48 children were enrolled in the original trial and randomly given over an 18 month period either a combination of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus mixed with peanut protein in increasing amounts, or a placebo.
At the end of the original trial in 2013, 82% of children who received the immunotherapy treatment were considered to be tolerant to peanuts compared with just 4% in the placebo group.
The researchers documented how often the children ate peanut and any allergic reactions experienced in the 4 years after treatment ended. Additional tests such as skin prick tests and a peanut challenge test were performed.
The trial was randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled. This means that neither the researchers nor the children and the parents knew who was receiving the placebo treatment until after the trial was completed.
Four years after initially receiving treatment, the majority of children have continued to eat peanuts as part of their normal diet and 70% have passed an oral challenge test and are now considered to be tolerant to peanuts.
The research study funded by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Australian Food Allergy Foundation concluded that “probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy provides long-lasting clinical benefit and persistent suppression of the allergic immune response to peanut” which is very positive news for children with peanut allergy and those who care for them.
The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health has a podcast with by Professor Mimi L K Tang of the Royal Children’s Hospital, Victoria, Australia about the results of the trial that you can listen to on iTunes.
You can read more about allergy testing on our website here.
Those interested can also access the abstract of the research published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health here.