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United Kingdom Medicine

Peanut Allergy Treatment Trial In UK "A Success" 192

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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  • Standard practice... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:12AM (#46118029)

    in treating various allergies in the past 10 years. Good studies since 70's.

  • by DMiax ( 915735 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:58AM (#46118165)
    Correct. But I suspect the hurdle here was to isolate the allergenic factor and administering it correctly. It is not as simple as splitting a peanut in 70 parts: you have to find the right protein, isolate it and dose it. It can be a bitch to do. The results prove that the protein was the right one and that the doses were ok. Finally, the treatment does not work with any substance: there are things that will remain lethal whatever happens as our immune system just cannot catch them. So that is another good news.
  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:04AM (#46118177)

    as said above, this is normal. The reason for the allergy is an over-response to the antigen. upon normal exposue, The mast cells release their chemicals to try and attack what it regards as foreign. But, we do not want that. So, you put a little bit in there on a weekly basis and monitor the patient for 30 minutes. If no reaction, they are good. If reaction, then epipen can stop it. At that point, back it down. What is different here, is that they started with a much lower dose. IOW, nothing really different, but, peanut reactions are normally SEVERE. They are not like cat/dog allergy, where you get a small rash. just simple exposure to a peanut will kill the majority of these ppl.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:11AM (#46118199)

    Allergy is an immune system reaction to something that shouldn't be a problem in the first place. It thinks that something (in this case peanuts) is dangerous, and launches a full scale defense.

    The trick here is simply to get the immune system used to the substance causing the reaction, so that it will think it's normal, rather than becoming defensive. This seems to work, as long as you increase the dose slowly. The method has been used with some success against other allergies for some time, but trying it on an often fatal allergy like peanut allergy is new.

    Now, why peanut allergy is so much more dangerous than all the other allergies, I have no idea. But as this trial worked, it does indicate that peanut allergy works like any other allergy.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:52AM (#46118293) Homepage Journal

    It seems that it WAS standard practice for a long time then medicine forgot all about it for a few years and decided avoidance was the only useful strategy.

    Now they seem to be back to the idea that desensitization works and avoidance just causes more allergies. Peanut allergy is a growing problem in the UK because expectant mothers were urged to avoid peanuts.

  • by somepunk ( 720296 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @07:49AM (#46118587) Homepage

    Not every 70th part is the same. Not homogenous. There's different stuff on the surface, probably a couple layers, and then there's the germ of the seed vs the bulk which is food for the germinating plant, and so on.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:00AM (#46118821)

    However I could see a lot of parents trying this, to a disastrous effect, because it could be the kid who has extremely small tolerance, will get too much and hurt themselves. or increasing the dosage goes too fast for the child.

    The real benefit of giving these kids treatments, isn't so they can have a peanut butter sandwich, but have foods that have touched nuts, and go to school and sit at the same table as someone eating a Peanut butter sandwich.

  • by mjr167 ( 2477430 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:04PM (#46121633)

    And it is going to take a long time for those new recommendations to make their way into the general public. There are piles of parenting help books that old parents gleefully shovel onto new parents. There are articles and magazines and Grandma and the crotchety old lady down the street. Everyone has an opinion about how you should be raising your kids and how you are doing a shitty job at it and your kids are going to die or need therapy or be a bum because you didn't give them the special new omega whatever supplement that promotes brain growth.

    And the advice is constantly changing. My husband is the youngest of three. His eldest brother slept on his stomach as a baby. Their mom was told to put the middle one on her side using this bizarre wedge pillow everyone had to buy or your baby would die, and by the time he was born, we had decided that babies had to sleep on their back. They just recently came out telling us to keep kids in rear facing car seats until they are two and they are pretty much in booster seats until they turn 21 now.

    On top of that, you only ever really get one shot at being a parent. You might get a couple tries with different kids, but each kid is only ever a baby once.

    So give the parents a break. They've never done this before, are sleep deprived, are the scourge of all the non-parents in the grocery store, and all they really want to do is go home, drink a beer, watch a TV show that doesn't involve a super hero named 'Word Girl' from the planet Lexicon, fall asleep, and not get woken up by a 30 lb bouncing bundle demanding pancakes at 5AM on a Saturday.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"