A treatment developed at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has delivered promising results in the treatment of peanut allergies in children. The treatment sees children with peanut allergies administered a probiotic called lactobacillus rhamnosus, with a peanut protein, once per day for a period of 18 months.
One month after the end of the treatment, over 80% of the children receiving the protein and probiotic could tolerate peanuts without suffering allergic symptoms. The same group of children were tested 4 years later and 70% were still able to eat peanuts without suffering allergic reactions.
Professor Mimi Tang of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute stated “These findings suggest our treatment is effective in inducing long-term intolerance, up to four years after completing treatment and is safe.” Professor Tang went on to say “Two thirds of the treated patients were able to continue regular peanut ingestion and more than half were ingesting moderate-to-large amounts of peanuts on a regular basis.”
How Does the Treatment Work?
The treatment changes how the body’s immune system responds to an allergen, in this case, peanuts.
"The probiotic acts on the immune system, encourages the immune system to generate a protective, or tolerance, response rather than allergy," Professor Tang said. "When given regularly over time, we hope to see the immune system recognise the antigen," she said.
Food allergy occurs in about one in 20 children and in about two in 100 adults. According to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, the most common allergy triggers are egg, cow's milk, peanut, tree nuts, seafood, sesame, soy, fish and wheat.
The majority of food allergies in children are not severe, and may be "outgrown" with time. But some, particularly peanut, tree nut, seed and seafood tend to be lifelong allergies. Researchers from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute said larger studies of the probiotic peanut protein treatment were needed to assess long-term safety outcomes.
Where can I Find More Information on Food Allergies and Intolerances?
For more information on food allergies and intolerances, watch this free video supplied by the Australian Institute of Food Safety.