Researchers Seem to Have a Cure for the Dreaded Peanut Allergy

By Rachel Cernansky | February 20, 2009 11:27 am

peanut.jpgPeanut lovers everywhere may have reason to celebrate. Doctors in England believe they have cured the peanut allergy, at least on a temporary basis. Using the simple technique of desensitization, doctors at the Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge exposed four children to peanuts over six months, during which time they successfully built up a tolerance. The children were started on 5 milligrams (.02 percent of an ounce) of peanut flour daily and by the end of the trial were able to ingest 880 milligrams a day, the equivalent of 5 whole peanuts. The study, which has been published in Allergy, continues and now includes 20 children between the ages of seven and 17, some of whom are able to ingest 12 peanuts a day. They would be monitored for the next three or four years to assess their tolerance levels, [lead researcher Andrew] Clark said, adding that there was no reason why the clinical trial could not be extended to adults [AFP].

Consultant allergist Pamela Ewan said, “Until now there has been no treatment that has modified the disease. There has only been effective management of the problems” [Medical News Today]. The new research brings hope to the many people, adults as well as children, who suffer from peanut allergy, which most often triggers breathing problems but can also cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock or cardiac arrest.

Effective management usually means simply avoiding contact with peanuts, which for the most severely allergic requires a level of care that can be daunting to constantly maintain. Trials in the 1990s attempted to build a similar tolerance using peanut injections, but were unsuccessful, and the concept of desensitising people to allergies has been successfully done with bee and wasp stings and pollen allergies, but this is the first time it has been achieved with a food-related allergy [BBC].

In the trial, the initial assessment showed the children were able to tolerate between 5 and 50 milligrams—equivalent of up to a quarter of a peanut—while the post-trial re-assessment demonstrated each child able to tolerate 10 or more peanuts. Clark said, “Unlike other childhood food allergies like cow’s milk, [the peanut allergy] rarely goes away. For all our participants, a reaction could lead to life-threatening anaphylactic shock…. It’s not a permanent cure, but as long as they go on taking a daily dose they should maintain their tolerance” [The Guardian].

Related Content:
80beats: Doc Diagnoses Our Nut-Phobic Society With Mass Hysteria
Disco: Allergy Sufferers of the World: Don’t Stress, You’ll Only Make It Worse

Image: Flickr /

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Stephen

    [Ad removed for being an advertisement of little relevance.]

  • Mat

    someone take down the comment from Stephen, its a blatant ad

  • Amos Kenigsberg (Discover Web Editor)

    @ Mat: I removed the ad, which was for an alleged allergy cure.

    I don’t want to establish a precedent here whereby we will remove any comment that contains any marketing message—such comments could potentially have useful info that might interest other visitors. But ads like the one that had been left here—which are obviously triggered purely by keyword and don’t try to add any perspective—will be summarily liquidated.

  • Rob

    Using the same logic chain as these “so-called” researchers, you could get used to breathing sarin gas. Just breathe a little bit every day until you’ve built up a tolerance.

    I have a peanut allergy. This “therapy” would kill me. I guess that would be ok…I wouldn’t have the allergy anymore.

  • alley

    I am really hoping for a cure for peanut allergy as my child has the severe allergy. This kind of “cure” leaves me feeling a little nervous. For one, it says it is not a permanent cure. Secondly, after some time, will the allergy recur and actually come back more severe. The study should watch these children for many many years to see if the “cure” remains and if there are problems later.

  • Brian

    @ Rob… your first paragraph is correct. Napoleon did it with arsenic.

    I doubt .02% of an ounce will kill you, or that you would even register symptoms, no matter how sensitive you are. Of course, you’d have to speak with a knowledgeable medical professional to be absolutely certain, but if your body reacts that strongly to an infinitesimal amount of a substance of which infinitesimal amounts are everywhere, you’ve likely died many times already.

    @ alley… building up resistance to something is not permanent in the sense that if one stops exposure to something, one’s resistance will gradually decrease. i.e., if you lift weights until you can bench press 300 lbs, then stop, your ability to lift weights will gradually decrease until you begin building it up again.


  • Bob Snyder

    I was going to respond to Rob and alley until I got to Brian’s comments. Well spoken. And apparently Rob doesn’t understand the article or just can’t read.

  • barb

    If you don’t create the allergy in the first place, you wouldn’t have to cure it. It has been known since 1839 that injections can cause food allergies.

    Children received:
    1960 – 1-2 vaccines
    1980 – 8-9 vaccines
    1990 – 10 vaccines
    2000 – 33 vaccinations
    2007 – 48 doses of 14 vaccines by age 6

    Vaccines contain an adjuvant that increases the body’s immune response to the protein in the vaccine. Something that the public and most physicians don’t realize is that the adjuvant can contain a trace of food protein. This is a protected trade secret and does not have to appear on the package insert. Soy, sesame, peanut, wheat germ, corn, shellfish, and fish oils are listed as ingredients in the patents.

  • David

    @barb – Known since 1839? Intriguing. What’s your source?

  • TealkingGoat

    I would lke to see that as well. Or are you an antivaxxer ?

  • frankie

    Is this an example of homeopathy?


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