BookmarkBookmarkTick

Groundbreaking Peanut Allergy Drug Could Save Lives

Results from a new study may lead to the approval of a “lifesaving” drug for kids with peanut allergies.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
November 19, 2018
little girl making peanut butter sandwich and licking her hand
Image: Getty Images

The results of a clinical experiment on peanut allergies was announced at a conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Seattle, and, if approved, it could be a gamechanger for kids with peanut allergies, The New York Times reports.

The year-long trial used an oral immunotherapy regimen aimed to reduce children’s sensitivity to peanut allergies by gradually exposing them to peanut protein over a six-month period. The experiment started with tiny amounts, which were carefully increased with doctors’ approval once a tolerance began to develop. The treatment is not meant to cure the allergy or allow children to eat foods with peanuts in them, but to reduce the risk of a life-threatening reaction due to accidental exposure to trace amounts of peanut allergens.

The study tested the treatment on 370 kids. After six months of treatment followed by six more months of maintenance therapy, two-thirds of the children were able to consume two peanuts without developing allergic symptoms. To put it in perspective, 124 children were given placebo powder and only 4 percent were able to consume the same amount of peanut without reacting.

But the treatment is not for everyone. Despite its great success, 20 percent of the kids who received treatment had to leave the study due to harmful side effects, compared to the less than 1 percent of kids who left that were on placebo. Plus, 14 percent of kids taking part in the treatment needed an emergency injection, compared to only 6.5 percent of those on placebo. Additionally, the treatment was not effective for adults who were tested.

Experts say the outcome exceeded their expectations, even calling the results “potentially lifesaving.” That said, they reinforce that the treatment does not cure peanut allergies and should not be attempted at home.

The study’s authors plan to submit a biologics license application to the FDA by the end of this year. The drug has already been designated as a breakthrough therapy, and, as a result, will receive priority review. It will go through an accelerated approval process, meaning the drug could be on the market by the end of 2019, The New York Times reports. While it hasn’t even been approved yet, the demand is expected to be high, and many are already expressing concern about how the drug will be priced and whether it will be covered by insurance.

For parents of kids with peanut allergies, this could help bring piece of mind. Until then, learn about the Nima Peanut Sensor, a tiny machine which tests samples of food for traces of peanuts.

Overhead view of peanuts in their shell and also shelled.

How to Spot (and Even Prevent) Food Allergies in Babies

profile picture of Jonathan Spergel, MD
Jonathan Spergel, MD
Pediatric Allergist and Immunologist
newborn baby photographed with fall leaves and a pumpkin

Babies Born in the Fall May Be at Higher Risk of Allergic Diseases

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
09/22/2020
peanut butter in dish surrounded by peanuts

The FDA Has Approved the First-Ever Treatment for Peanut Allergies

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/04/2020
peanut butter in a jar surrounded by peanuts

New Treatment May Provide Much-Needed Protection From Peanut Allergies

profile picture of Laurie Ulster
Laurie Ulster
Contributing Writer
Published
09/05/2019
little girl having allergic reaction

This Is What Really Happens When a Kid Has a Severe Allergic Reaction

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/12/2019
tia mowry opens up about her daughter's peanut allergy

Tia Mowry Shares How Her Son's Severe Allergy Changed Her Family’s Life

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
10/30/2018
teal pumpkin at target lets people know their house has allergy safe candy options

Mom's Viral PSA on Teal Pumpkins Makes Halloween Safer for Kids With Allergies

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
10/04/2018
nima peanut sensor for kids with peanut allergies

You Need to Know About This New Machine if Your Kid Has Peanut Allergies

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
09/07/2018
woman's hands opening epipen

Parents Can Give Kids Expired EpiPens as Shortage Continues, FDA Says

profile picture of Ashley Edwards Walker
Ashley Edwards Walker
Contributing Writer
Published
08/23/2018
Article removed.