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Clinical Trial Finds Potential Peanut Allergy Solution

Through the use of gradual exposure to peanut protein, two thirds of children experienced a minimized allergic reaction among two thirds of those involved in the testing.

The regimen of oral medication is found to benefit a decrease in the risks of accidental peanut exposure that could have life-threatening results.

Known as AR101, the immunotherapy drug was tested in a yearlong clinical trial, with the complete results to be published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Aimmune Therapeutics both developed the drug and conducted the research. 

Out of the 372 children that participated in the clinical trial, two-thirds gained the ability to eat the equivalent of two peanuts without experiencing an allergic reaction. Those children faced a gradual increase in peanut protein exposure for six months, and then six months of maintenance. The same results were found in 4 percent of the study’s remaining 124 children that received the placebo.

It was found that the treatment didn’t work for everyone as over half of the 20 percent of children that exited the trial did so as a result of adverse events, while 14 percent of them required epinephrine injections.

The study’s findings were made public at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology conference in Seattle.

A Northwestern University study discovered that sesame is the ninth-most common allergen for kids.

Issues stemming from sesame allergies can be harder to avoid since it is not required by manufacturers to disclose it is included in their products, said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern and pediatrician.

One in three children with a sesame allergy is taken to the emergency room annually, with the data having been pulled from a survey of parents of more than 38,000 children in 2015 and 2016.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in October that considerations are being made to require food warnings for items that contain sesame as a result of the allergic reaction increasing. 

“Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see evidence that sesame allergies may be a growing concern in the U.S.,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

Manufacturers are currently required by federal law to identify whether a food contains milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or soybeans.

According to the National Institutes of Health, peanut and tree nut allergies affect approximately 1.1 percent of the general population, which is equivalent to roughly 3 million Americans. Sesame allergies are found to affect about 0.1 percent of the North American population.