Living With A Peanut Allergy? New Research Finds New Way To Reverse It

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Fear Peanuts No More: Scientists Find New Food Allergy Treatment

Image by Tatjana Zlatkovic / Stocksy

Whether you prefer creamy or crunchy, it’s hard to deny the salty, spreadable delight that is peanut butter. But for the estimated 1.8 million children with peanut allergies, it's more than saying no to a tasty treat; it can be a matter of life or death. 

Fortunately, a recent Stanford-led study found that one injection of an antibody was able to reverse peanut allergies for up to six weeks. 

What did the researchers find?

A total of 20 adults with severe peanut allergies were randomly chosen to receive a single injection of the antibody or a placebo. Of the participants, 20 were injected with the antibody and five received placebo. 

Each participant took a variety of health tests, including skin pricks and electrocardiograms before undergoing “oral challenges” and lab tests. 

The oral challenges required participants to eat small doses of peanut protein fifteen days after the medication was administered. Of the antibody group, 73% were able to eat one nut’s worth of protein without a reaction. No one in the placebo group was able to eat peanut protein without reacting. On day 45 the test was repeated, and this time, 57% of the antibody group passed.

The antibody interferes with a molecule that triggers common allergic reactions, like swelling, hives and anaphylactic shock. Because of its inhibiting properties, researchers expected the antibody to halt the effects of allergies.

What was surprising, according to co-author Kari Nadeau, MD, Ph.D., were how long the effects lasted. 


Why is this big? 

The current treatments for food allergies are limited. Typically, patients have to eat the food they are allergic to in small doses until they eventually become desensitized. The process is called oral immunotherapy and can take anywhere from 6 months to one year, and introduces the risk of a deadly allergic reaction. 

Although more research needs to be done, this information provides evidence and hope for a safer and more effective treatment.

What's next for this research?

Since the antibody prohibits all allergic responses—not just peanut allergies—the treatment can help prevent eczema, asthma and all other food allergies. Researchers will need to conduct a larger study to determine who can benefit from the treatment. It would also be helpful to understand appropriate timing and size of the dosage.

Before you slather that peanut butter on your morning toast, remember the study is still in its early stages. In the meantime, consider this protein-packed seed butter or an elevated nut-free topping.

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