This site is intended for health professionals only

One step closer to allergy cure

Doctors believe they have found a treatment that could potentially cure nut allergies.

A team from Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge exposed a group of children with a severe peanut allergy to doses of peanut flour over a six-month period.

After the clinical trial the children could eat up to 12 nuts a day without suffering a life-threatening reaction in the form of anaphylaxis. It is the first time a food allergy has been desensitised in this way.

Further studies are now planned to look at other types of nuts, including hazelnuts and Brazil nuts. Foods that appear to be fuelling reactions such as kiwi fruit, will also form part of future trials.

Andrew Clark, a consultant in paediatric allergy who led the research, said the study had "definitely" brought his team one step closer to finding a cure for food allergies.

In the latest study, published in the journal Allergy, four children were given peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) mixed into yoghurt.

Every two weeks the dose was increased until the children could tolerate at least 800 mg of the protein, 160 times the starting dose and equivalent to five whole peanuts.

All of the children are keeping up their tolerance by ingesting five peanuts a day as a "maintenance" dose.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Addenbrooke's Hospital