A 10-year-old boy with leukemia who recently received a bone marrow transplant was cured not only of his cancer, but of his severe peanut allergy as well.
The boy, who was diagnosed as having a peanut allergy at 15 months, had been fighting cancer since he was 4 years old. Despite chemotherapy treatments, the cancer relapsed multiple times. One year after receiving a bone marrow transplant to treat the leukemia, his allergy unexpectedly vanished, apparently as side effect of the treatment. The bone marrow donor had no known allergies.
“It has been reported that bone marrow and liver transplants can transfer peanut allergy from donor to recipient,” said lead study author Dr. Yong Luo, who presented the case at the annual conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “But our research found a rare case in which a transplant seems to have cured the recipient of their allergy.”
Researchers are unsure why this happened, although they think it may be related to the early development of immune cells in the bone marrow.
“Food allergy is associated with the body’s abnormal production of high specific IgE [antibody] levels,” said study author Dr. Steven Weiss. “This case, in addition to the previous reports, indicates that genetic modification during the early stages of immune cell development in bone marrow may play a large role in causing allergy.”
Further studies are required to learn more about what caused the boy’s peanut allergy to go away. Doctors stress that bone marrow transplants should only be conducted when medically necessary.