A new peanut allergy treatment could hold promise for children who otherwise suffer severe reactions.
The experimental drug that shows it's possible to build up a peanut tolerance over time is ready for U.S. Food and Drug Administration review. Final research results published in the New England Journal of Medicine were also presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual scientific meeting on Sunday.
A phase three trial included 551 people, most ages 4 to 17 with a history of life-threatening reactions after eating peanuts. Participants were given the experimental drug derived from peanuts daily over the course of several months.
Study authors hoped the treatment could allow patients one or two peanuts a day without a severe reaction. Allergist and co-author Stephen Tilles said he was pleased to discover that two thirds of the people in the study could tolerate two peanuts daily after nine to 12 months of treatment — and half could eat four peanuts a day. Almost all children experienced allergic reactions over the yearlong trial funded by Aimmune Therapeutics, but less than five percent were classified as severe.
"We're excited about the potential to help children and adolescents with peanut allergy protect themselves against accidentally eating a food with peanut in it," he said in a statement.
There are currently no approved treatments available for those who suffer peanut allergies.
Co-author and allergist Jay Lieberman, vice chair of the ACAAI Food Allergy Committee, expects the drug could be approved for use later next year.
"This is not a quick fix, and it doesn't mean people with [a] peanut allergy will be able to eat peanuts whenever they want," Lieberman said in a statement. "But it is definitely a breakthrough."