Peanut allergy and life-threatening anaphylaxis is most common in infants and young children, but can also appear for the first time in adults. A recent Australian study has shown that peanut allergy affects 3% of children under 1 year of age. Peanut exposure may be hard to avoid, where even trace amounts can trigger symptoms. Generally, severity may lessen with age, but there have been around 20% of cases that showed allergies becoming worse with time.
Peanut allergy trials in Australia
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Professor Mimi Tang from the Murdoch Children’s Research institute, has developed a possible treatment for children allergic to peanuts. Participants in the trail were given a probiotic called lactobacillus rhamnosus with a peanut protein, every day for 18 months. After about a month, results showed that more than 80% of children who received this treatment could tolerate peanuts without allergic reactions. The test was repeated using the same children, 4 years later. Professor Mimi Tang presented results showing that 70% of the children were still able to tolerate peanuts without severe allergy symptoms.
Further safety information is needed for this treatment to be made available, however in this small group these findings showed that treatment is effective for long term tolerance for up to 4 years without serious reactions. It was also shown that more than half of the children were consuming large amounts of food containing peanuts, regularly.
What is Lactobacillus rhamnosus probiotic?
The Lactobacillus rhamnosus probiotic, commonly found in small doses in yoghurt, calms the immune system’s response to allergens it would normally react to, reducing the severity of allergic reactions. This bacterium encourages the immune system to generate a tolerant response rather than an allergic reaction.
Professor Tang and her team reported that larger studies of this treatment were needed to assess long-term safety outcomes and to see whether children can overcome peanut allergies by taking the probiotic alone, or whether the peanut protein is needed.
Monash University & Aravax
Another trial was conducted by a Melbourne-based company called Aravax, testing an immunotherapy product called PVX108 to treat peanut allergy. This product is a result 15 years scientific research led by Professor Robyn O’Hehir and her team at Monash University.
PVX108 uses parts of peanut proteins to switch off allergic reactions to peanuts. The product is said to be relatively safe because the protein fragments do not contain the parts of the peanut proteins that can cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.
The double-blinded and placebo controlled clinical trials that commenced in Melbourne in 2017 and will assess the safety of PVX108.
Treatment of Peanut Allergy
Currently there is no treatment for peanut allergy, but researchers continue to perform trials in Australia and the US. In the meantime, management involves taking steps to avoid exposing your child to peanuts and foods which may contain peanuts and traces of peanuts such as certain ice creams, cereals and granola, grain breads, biscuits and pastry.
Make sure you know what to do if a severe reaction occurs. Always keep your child’s EpiPen on hand as it can immediately reduce the severity of an anaphylactic reaction. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist on the correct method of using this device and become familiar with the steps so if an emergency arises, you are prepared. It is also important that at school there is a food allergy management plan and staff are able to use an Epipen in case of emergency.
It is also important to note that under no circumstances should you try to treat your child’s peanut allergy at home. These trials still need more safety information and when and if they become available treatment will be conducted in a hospital setting.
This blog post was brought to you and your family with love from Julia and the itchy baby co. team x.
Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.