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Allergic to Peanuts? Researchers on Track to Change It

There is promising news for people with peanut allergies: researchers at a U.S. university have found a way to alter the nuts to make them hypoallergenic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA said in a blog post Tuesday that researchers at North Carolina A&T State University were able to reduce the allergens in peanuts by 98 to 100 percent by treating them with an enzyme. The enzyme targets the proteins that trigger peanut allergies.

The USDA says the treatment is effective whether peanuts are whole, broken into pieces or ground into flour. The research also shows promise in wheat.

The head of the research team, Dr. Jianmei Yu says it is very important to find a way to make peanuts less or non-allergenic, as it is difficult for those with the allergy to avoid exposure.

A director within the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Jan Singleton says the research is also important "because peanuts can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet."

The USDA says a peanut allergy is one of the most common causes of food-related anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction.