U.S. drug developer Aimmune Therapeutics has made significant strides toward developing a preventive treatment for peanut allergies.
The company has created peanut powder capsules intended to help children build a tolerance to the legume, via gradual exposure, reports the Associated Press.
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Aimmune studied close to 500 children ages 4 to 17 with severe peanut allergies, giving the children either the peanut capsules or a dummy powder in increasing quantities over a period of six months. Then, for an additional six months, they continued to take the capsule at the final amount. By the end of the study, 67% of those with the experimental treatment were able to consume the equivalent of about two peanuts, as compared to 4% of those given the dummy powder.
Nevertheless, Aimmune admitted that approximately 20% of those receiving the peanut powder dropped out over the course of the study—more than half of those due to reactions. While it’s not a cure, the co-leader of the study, Dr. Stacie Jones, told the AP that the product showed “overall good safety.” The specialists also warned families against trying to replicate the treatment on their own.
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Aimmune Therapeutics joins a growing group of medical experts who have changed their approach to peanut allergies, advocating for early exposure to prevent the sensitivity from forming. The National Institutes of Health issued new advice last year suggesting that babies should begin eating peanut-containing foods around six months.
The company reportedly plans to seek FDA approval for the treatment by the end of this year.