Peanut allergies are becoming more and more common in children, and this usually continues into adulthood. In severe cases, a peanut allergy can be life-threatening, and at this moment in time, there is no approved treatment for it. A current study is investigating a new drug and its effectiveness to reduce the symptoms seen in people with severe peanut allergies.
The new drug being tested is called AR101 and it’s based on peanut protein, with the idea being that the dose is gradually increased to build up a tolerance. This treatment is not a cure to peanut allergies, rather its aim is to make people with severe allergies less likely to experience a serious reaction if they are exposed to peanuts.
This drug is not available in all countries but it has been licensed in the USA by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, as an approved drug in the reduction of allergic reaction incidence and severity in patients aged 4-17 years old with a peanut allergy.
The trial involved a total of 555 participants, 499 children and 56 adults, and was carried out in 10 countries in North America and Europe. The study compared the drug AR101 with a dummy powder, a placebo. Some participants received the real drug, which was gradually increased over a 12 month period. The other participants received the placebo, which was also gradually increased over 12 months. It is important to note that all tolerance tests were conducted in a research facility under medical supervision. This meant that participants could receive immediate medical attention if they experienced a severe allergic reaction.
So, what were the results? Well, the research showed that young people with peanut allergies could experience a reduction in the severity of their symptoms, and a greater ability to tolerate small amounts of peanut protein following treatment with AR101 compared with the placebo. The study also showed that although this treatment appeared to work in children and adolescents, it had no significant effect in adults. The reason behind this has not yet been made clear.
There are continuous ongoing studies for peanut allergies in the attempt to offer some hope for parents and children with serious peanut allergies. We must point out that tolerance testing should never be attempted at home. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.