British researchers are reporting highly encouraging results in a peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) study.
After six months of treatment, more than 80 percent of the children taking the therapy were able to eat at least five peanuts a day before experiencing symptoms. The Cambridge University trial involved 99 peanut-allergic children between the ages of 7 and 16, and the study was conducted in two phases.
That’s believed to be the largest study to date of peanut OIT, in which study participants consume tiny and then progressively larger amounts of peanut powder, taken in food.
“Now most of the patients in the trial can safely eat at least five whole peanuts. The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically,” said Dr. Andrew Clark, one of two lead researchers on the study that was published in The Lancet journal in late January.
“This is a fantastic study, and it has the best results to date,” Dr. Matthew Greenhawt of the University of Michigan Food Allergy Center told the Wall Street Journal.
But both the researchers and Greenhawt (who is not affiliated with the study) caution that this therapy is still at the investigational stage – more study is needed to make sure the desensitization will endure. People are warned to definitely not be experiment with OIT at home.
In the first phase of the study, half the children with peanut allergies were assigned to a treatment group, and the other half were the control group, and they avoided peanuts. For 26 weeks, the active group ate increasing doses of peanut powder – up to 800 milligrams a day.
About 20 percent in the active group side effects, as commonly occurs with OIT trials. Most of the reactions involved gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or nausea and were considered mild.