By Professor Mimi Tang
MBBS(Hons) PhD FRACP FRCPA FAAAAI
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of life-threatening anaphylaxis in children and it can cause death.
Rates over the past 20 years have skyrocketed by more than 350 per cent. That’s why a groundbreaking study by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to help children develop tolerance to peanut has been embraced worldwide and continues to make headlines.
In the study led by Professor Mimi Tang, over 60 peanut allergic children were either given a dose of a probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, together with peanut protein in increasing amounts, or a placebo over 18 months to assess whether children would become tolerant to peanut.
Astoundingly, researchers found over 80% of children who received the oral immunotherapy treatment were able to tolerate peanut at the end of the trial, compared to less than 4% of the placebo group. This is 20 times higher than the natural rate of resolution for peanut allergy.
And more than four years after this original trial, the treatment has shown long-lasting effects. The majority of children who gained initial tolerance are still eating peanut as part of their normal diet (80%) and have passed a further challenge test confirming long-term tolerance to peanut (70%).
Prof Tang said these findings suggest this treatment is safe and effective at inducing long-term tolerance, up to four years after completing treatment.
“The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanut like children who don’t have peanut allergy and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanut,” said Prof Tang.