Peanut allergy cure hope20th February 2009
Doctors believe they may have helped cure a group of children of their peanut allergies.
Four children were exposed to peanuts over a six-month period by the group at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Over that period, the children were initially given 5mg doses of peanut flour building up to a level where their bodies could tolerate 800mg or the equivalent of five peanuts a day.
Researchers, publishing their findings in the journal Allergy, say long term follow-up is needed to confirm the findings but this is the first time a food allergy has been desensitised in such a way.
Dr Andy Clark, who led the research, said: "Every time people with a peanut allergy want something, they're frightened that it might kill them.
"Our motivation was to find a treatment that would change that and give them the confidence to eat what they like.
"It's not a permanent cure, but as long as they go on taking a daily dose they should maintain their tolerance."
Another 18 children are now taking part in another study with hopes the technique can work for adults.
Peanut allergies affect one in 50 young people in the UK, can commonly cause breathing problems and in the worst cases lead to a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Allergy UK described the research as "an important step forward".
"This could make a real difference, but at this stage it is too early to tell whether it will work for everyone," said John Collard, the clinical director of Allergy UK.
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