Living with peanut allergies can be tough, especially in social environments, but there’s a promising new treatment could help millions of children suffering from peanut allergies.
A company in California has been on the front line of treatments, creating a peanut protein powder to desensitize kids to peanuts at an early age.
"You want butter on your toast, Ian?" Amanda LaPete asked her 8-year-old son, Ian, while they stood over the toaster.
Ian has spent his entire life dealing with a peanut allergy.
“When I was a little baby, my mom gave me a little bit of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because she thought I was hungry and then I swelled up," Ian explained.
And things haven't always been easy, especially when he's with his friends or at school surrounded by other children.
"At lunch, I just sit at the peanut free table," he said.
"Going out to eat can be tricky, Amanda added, “making sure that there's no contamination at the restaurant, especially at an ice cream parlor. They have to use a clean scoop for his. I worry about him if he were to go to a friend’s house."
Ian is part of a growing population of people living with peanut allergies.
According to the food allergy and research education center, nearly one percent of people live with a peanut allergy in the United States—and 4 out of every 100 children live with a food allergy.
Dr. David Robertson is an allergist at Allergy and Immunology Associates of New England.
He told Western Mass News that there's been some advances in peanut allergy treatments, but most are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and still need some more research.
"There's been a lot of interest in say the last ten years or so,” Dr. Robertson said. “In different ways to do this and the idea is we want to get some of that stuff that you're allergic to into your body in a way that's not going to cause a reaction."
Dr. Robertson says in the last couple of years, a few companies have emerged to make commercial versions of these products.
One of those companies is Aimmune Therapeutics which is based in California.
The company says there is research that shows the daily use of its peanut protein capsules could desensitize children to peanut allergies.
In the study, the company gave increasingly larger doses of peanut protein powder mixed in to various foods to nearly 500 children between the ages of 4 and 17.
At the end of one year, the company says 67 percent of the children were able to tolerate the equivalent of roughly two peanuts, something they say could be enough to avoid a potentially deadly reaction to a small exposure of peanuts.
Aimmune Therapeutics told Western Mass News in a statement:
"We at Aimmune are enormously pleased with this result, but this success really belongs to the entire food allergy community. Aimmune was originally founded through the commitment of food allergy parents, food allergy advocates, and food allergy researchers."
"I think as a field, we are very excited of the possibility of it. But it's not a benign treatment that people should pursue at home,” Dr. Robertson cautioned. “It's not FDA approved. So sometimes, there's a significant out of pocket cost, but regardless, it's always done in a clinical setting under the guidance of a physician."
Ian and his mom are looking forward to the possibility of a treatment down the line.
"Half a peanut causes a reaction at this point,” Amanda said, “so to be able to have two peanuts accidentally and not end up in the ER is a big deal. If I could have less worry of a potential reaction, that would be great "
Capsule is by no means a treatment for allergies in kids and adults, but it is a way for people suffering from peanut allergies to get some relief.
However, there are some risks involved in taking a capsule like stomach pains, a severe reaction or even mouth tingling.
Aimunne says they hope to get FDA approval by the end of next year.
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