It’s one of the most common allergies in the world: peanuts. It causes hundreds of deaths per year and if triggered can cause anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening allergic reaction. But in a groundbreaking project, an Australian research group at Murdoch University have used the allergy as a way to explore the frontier of the immune system.
In 2013, 48 kids with the allergy were enrolled in a trial where their allergies were given a new form of treatment combining the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus and immunotherapy known as PPIOT. The children were randomly given either a combination of the probiotic together with peanut protein in increasing amounts, or a placebo once daily for 18 months. What they found shocked the research group; instead of triggering the allergy, the therapy reprogrammed the response to the body and helped develop a desensitization to the allergy.
At the end of the trial, 82% of the 48 kids were found to lack the trigger to the allergy, as opposed to 4% of the placebo group. The research group found that even after four years the defense against the allergy was still there in the system.
The research lead, Professor Mimi Tang, said the results were very exciting and had been life-changing for the children, “These children had been eating peanuts freely in their diet without having to follow any particular program of peanut intake in the years after treatment was completed.” This goes a long way to prove that this type of treatment can work against food allergens across the world. Stay tuned.