We love peanut butter, but for the estimated 1.8 million children worldwide with allergies, the smallest amount of peanut can be a matter of life or death. A Stanford University study now shows that a particular injection could reverse a peanut allergy for two to six weeks.
The allergy to peanuts is one of the most dangerous food allergies in the world. Anyone who has it can even go into shock (anaphylaxis) on contact with a peanut. Therefore, people with a known allergy have adrenaline syringes on hand to administer themselves in case of emergency.
However, a team of American researchers wanted to find out whether antibody injections in people with peanut allergies could slow down the body’s allergic reactions. The researchers worked with 20 subjects. Fifteen of them were given an injection of an antibody. The remaining five were given a placebo.
Antibodies are proteins made by humans in response to foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria or foreign chemicals. In the case of a peanut allergy, the body makes an abundant amount of antibodies against a normally harmless peanut.
For two weeks after the jab, participants had to eat small doses of peanuts. Nearly 75 percent of the antibody group, or 11 out of 15 subjects, were able to eat a full peanut after two weeks without getting an allergic reaction. The people in the placebo group, on the other hand, could not eat any of it without a reaction.
On day 45, they repeated the test. At that time, 57 percent of the group that received the injection could eat the peanut without any problems. The antibody in the injection inhibited a substance that causes the allergic reactions.
The peanut or groundnut comes from South America and is a legume from a plant. Individuals with peanut allergies can develop very severe symptoms that can lead to death. 0.5 people per 1,000 inhabitants are allergic to it.
In children, this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in the parents. An average peanut weighs 500 to 1,000 mg, research shows that up to 1/1,000 of that may already be enough to provoke reactions in some people.
This American study is interesting because the possible treatments for a food allergy are very limited. The results are encouraging to develop safe treatments in the future. However, they conducted this study on a small number of participants who generally showed mild symptoms in contact with peanuts. In the future, more research will be needed before we can talk about peanut allergy treatment.
This is not the first study in which scientists investigated a treatment for peanut allergy. Recently, other researchers published results of a study in which they treated individuals with this allergy with a drug based on peanut protein.
Nonetheless, further research is needed to confirm these results, as this is one of the most dangerous food allergies.
Cassidy is a certified dietician with a focus on patients suffering with diabetes. She has more than 10 years of experience, working with patients of different background. She writes health-related article for the Scientific Origin.