Around 4 million people in the United States are extremely allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. But an experimental new study suggests adults may, in the future, be able to take antibodies to keep the allergy symptoms at bay for five to six weeks at least in small doses. Taking only one injection of an anti-allergy antibody will be allowed to people with a peanut allergy to consume safely, according to a study published recently. Food allergies are very tricky; approximately 12% of adults in the US have at least one specific type of allergy despite the fact that almost half of all adult allergy sufferers have more than one. They can develop an allergy at any point in life without any definite cause, and so far, there’s no significant way to prevent a reaction beyond just avoiding the food altogether.
A group of Stanford University allergy researchers recruited around 25 people with non-life-threatening peanut allergies to test the antibody known as ‘etokimab,’ thought to block a molecule called interleukin-33, which can trigger your immune system which on the other hand can lead to an allergic reaction. Around 15 participants received the antibody, and 10 others received a placebo injection. Two weeks later, 12 out of 15 recipients who received the antibody could consume a small amount of peanut protein bar, around 270 milligrams, the equivalent of one nut. Only 7 out of 15 participants came back for the check-in five weeks later, but even then, more than half of them could safely eat the same amount of peanut protein. No members of the placebo team could tolerate the protein without any kind of allergic reaction.
To arrive on any conclusions about what makes the antibody work in some people, researchers said they’ll need to repeat the results with more participants and find out the perfect dosage and timing of the treatment. This treatment won’t let adults with peanut allergies consume peanuts safely, but it does give hope of a possible preventative treatment for individuals with allergies. The only preventative measure for peanut allergy reactions is to stop eating them altogether. It’s possible to treat inadvertent exposure with antihistamines or in more extreme cases, with an EpiPen shot, which contains epinephrine to quash allergic symptoms.