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United Kingdom Medicine

Peanut Allergy Treatment Trial In UK "A Success" 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-doesn't-kill-me dept.
cold fjord writes: "The BBC reports, 'Peanuts are the most common cause of fatal allergic reactions to food. There is no treatment so the only option for patients is to avoid them completely, leading to a lifetime of checking every food label before a meal. The trial ... tried to train the children's immune system to tolerate peanut. Every day they were given a peanut protein powder — starting off on a dose equivalent to a 70th of a peanut. Once a fortnight the dose was increased while the children were in hospital and then they continued taking the higher dose at home. The majority of patients learned to tolerate the peanut. ... Dr Andrew Clark, told the BBC: "It really transformed their lives dramatically, this really comes across during the trial. ... Dr Pamela Ewan added ... further studies would be needed and that people should not try this on their own as this "should only be done by medical professionals in specialist settings."' The story also notes, 'The findings, published in the Lancet, suggest 84% of allergic children could eat the equivalent of five peanuts a day after six months.'"
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Peanut Allergy Treatment Trial In UK "A Success"

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  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:45AM (#46118143) Homepage

    Not why do it, but why does the treatment work? The cited Lancet article doesn't seem to offer any answers (or hint at any efforts to find them).... development of enzyme reserves??

    And what of the annecdotal relationship between peanut allergies and *not* breast feeding?

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oneandoneis2 (777721) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:31AM (#46118251) Homepage

    In terms of the actual mechanism: as far as I recall, immune cells develop with a random specificity: It's pure chance what they'll recognise.

    If they're exposed to something that they will react to in their development time, they die: This is how we prevent them from reacting to ourselves.

    So although it won't do anything to existing immune cells, the persistent presence of peanuts will at least prevent any new immune cells popping up that will react to them.

  • Re:the remaining 16% (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjames (1099) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:53AM (#46118303) Homepage

    Contrary to the media hype, MOST people with peanut allergies don't have a fatal reaction. Just in case, the dosing was started in a hospital setting.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:10AM (#46118337)

    It is not as simple as splitting a peanut in 70 parts.

    Excuse my ignorance but why isn't it that simple? If you started feeding people with 1/70 of a peanut and worked your way up wouldn't that have the same effect as extracting the protein responsible fro the reaction and doing the same thing?

  • Nutty parents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by giorgist (1208992) on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:10AM (#46118339)
    I know of parents that don't give peanuts to their kids since babies, just in case they have allergies. So the kid does not develop protection. They give them allergies out of paranoia
  • by marsu_k (701360) on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:24AM (#46118377)

    My daughter's milk allergy (yes, milk allergy, not lactose intolerance) was treated this way. It started with an almost homeopathic dosage, one drop of milk diluted to 1/20 per day, gradually increasing the dosage over six months. Now she's able to use dairy products freely, which is great. But the treatment doesn't really get rid of the allergy, it just builds a resistance for it, requiring that she gets at least some milk protein in her diet daily. I'll echo the summary though - don't try this without a medical professional.

  • Re:Nutty parents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gnoshi (314933) on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:24AM (#46118381)

    The advice being provided by the state-provided Maternal and Child Health Nurses in Australia (or at least, the ones I know of) is now to start giving children pulverized nuts (so they don't choke on them) as part of their diet from the very beginning of consuming food, apparently for this exact reason.

  • by ebh (116526) <ebh-slashdot@h[ ... g ['ype' in gap]> on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:24AM (#46119947) Journal

    Who was it who said, "Most scientific discoveries aren't hailed with 'Eureka!', but rather with, 'Hmmm, that's weird.'"?

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.