A treatment taken just once a month has the potential to save the lives of peanut-allergy sufferers, researchers have found.
In breakthrough trials conducted over 18 months on patients in Melbourne and Adelaide, researchers were able to avoid dangerous side effects of the common peanut allergy.
Associate Professor Mark Hew, head of the allergy, asthma, and clinical immunology unit at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, said the findings were exciting.
‘There are two benefits, it is safer and the injections can be given two weeks or four weeks apart rather than eating a little bit of peanuts every day for the rest of their lives,’ he told the Herald Sun.
In other trials where allergy sufferers have been exposed to peanuts to increase their tolerance, many have suffered anaphylactic shock as a result and been left in urgent need of an epipen to counter the effects.
However, when sufferers were exposed to peanut proteins during the current trial on patients in Melbourne and Adelaide, they didn’t have an anaphylactic reaction.
The findings will be presented to a medical conference in San Francisco on Monday by Monash University Professor Robyn O’Hehir, who is also chief medical adviser to Aravax.
‘This is a significant breakthrough in the search for a safe therapy for peanut allergy,’ she said.
The tests worked by cutting the peanut proteins into smaller sections, or peptides, to protect patients from the harsh side effects of being exposed to the entire protein.
The trials have been a long time in the making, with Melbourne scientists working on the technology for 15 years before human trials started in 2017.
Almost three in every 100 Australian children have a peanut allergy.