Adults with peanut allergy might find relief in new toothpaste

If you could treat your peanut allergy while brushing your teeth, that would be a win-win situation, right? Well, it might soon be possible.

Introducing small amounts of peanut orally and over time has long been used to desensitize people to their allergy. Recently, an abstract presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s annual scientific meeting showed a specially formulated toothpaste was successful at doing just that.

“OMIT (Oral Mucosal Immunotherapy) uses a specially formulated toothpaste to deliver allergenic peanut proteins to areas of the oral cavity,” allergist William Berger, MD, and author of the study, told the meeting. “OMIT as a delivery mechanism for peanut protein has a great potential for food allergy desensitization. Due to its targeted delivery and simple administration, it supports the goal of improved adherence.”

The small study was conducted with 32 adults ages 18-55. Participants were given either an increasing dose of peanut toothpaste or a placebo during a 48-week trial.

The treatment wasn’t meant to cure the allergy, but rather to prevent a severe reaction to an accidental exposure.

“We noted that 100% of those being treated with the toothpaste consistently tolerated the pre-specified protocol highest dose,” Berger said. “No moderate nor severe systemic reactions occurred in active participants. Non-systemic adverse reactions were mostly local (oral itching), mild, and transient. … OMIT appears to be a safe and convenient option for adults with food allergies. The results support continued development of this toothpaste in the pediatric population.”

The toothpaste could have an advantage over Palforzia, a powder approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat peanut allergies in those ages 4 to 17, according to Dr. Edwin Kim, director of the Food Allergy Initiative at the University of North Carolina. The powder needs to be refrigerated and mixed with foods like applesauce or yogurt, NBC News reported.

“Unfortunately, what we know with that type of treatment is that side effects including allergic reactions are actually pretty common,” Kim, who wasn’t involved in the study, told NBC. “It’s already hard enough to be thinking about avoiding your allergen.”

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