News / Health

    New Therapy for Peanut Allergy Shows Promise

    Similar to allergy shots for dust and pollen, feeding peanuts in tiny amounts is designed to reprogram the young patients’ immune system so peanuts don’t provoke life-threatening reactions.
    Similar to allergy shots for dust and pollen, feeding peanuts in tiny amounts is designed to reprogram the young patients’ immune system so peanuts don’t provoke life-threatening reactions.
    Jessica Berman
    To someone with a peanut allergy, accidentally ingesting a product containing even tiny amounts of the legume can trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction.  But researchers have found that when patients were given miniscule daily doses of peanut powder, they were able to build tolerance to the deadly food allergen.  
     
    There is currently no allergy shot to desensitize individuals with a peanut allergy. The best treatment is to avoid all foods that might contain peanuts, which - in some people - can cause a potentially fatal reaction called anaphylaxis, in which the airways tighten and restrict breathing.  The only treatment is a rescue shot of epinephrine, which opens the airways. Those with the allergy often carry an emergency shot with them.
     
    It might seem dangerous to give these people an oral dose of peanut powder.  But that’s exactly what U.S. researchers did in a new multi-center clinical trial. 
     
    Wesley Burks, chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, led the study.  He says 20 peanut-sensitive adolescents at two centers were given liquid containing miniscule amounts of peanut powder which they held under their tongue for two minutes before swallowing, while 20 received a placebo, or inactive, liquid. 
     
    Every day, according to Burks, scientists increased the amount of peanut in the liquid by a tiny fraction.
     
    “Before the study, they only could eat a third of a peanut.  At the end of the study they could tolerate three peanuts.  So that difference changed.  What we don’t know is how long do you need to continue the therapy and then you need to stop it so that change is permanent," he said. 
     
    More studies will be conducted to find that out.  The SLIT trial, which stands for Sub-Lingual or beneath-the-tongue Immuno-Therapy, shows promise in desensitizing people with severe peanut allergies; after 44 weeks, adolescents in the study could tolerate ten times as much peanut as before the trial, compared to subjects who received an inactive liquid, according to Burks. 
     
    The researcher cautions those with peanut allergies not to try desensitizing themselves.  Microdoses measured in just billionths of a gram of peanut power were used in the trial, doses that could not be replicated at home.
     
    "We were unbelievably safe in trying to administer the product.  And it is not something that's ready for practice or ready for home use, because for peanut-allergic patients, there's too many dangers in doing that," he said. 
     
    The study on treating peanut allergy with sublingual therapy is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.