Long-term treatment for peanut allergy comes a step closer

Promising new results have been released from a novel peanut immunotherapy trial being conducted by Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Half of the children with peanut allergies participating in the trial were given a probiotic called lactobacillus rhamnosus, as well as a low concentration of peanut protein, once a day for 18 months. One month after stopping treatment, more than 80 per cent of children who received the protein and probiotic could tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms at the end of the trial.

The same children were then tested four years later, with 70 per cent of the children still able to eat peanuts without suffering an allergic reaction. According to media surrounding of the release of these new findings, two thirds of the treated participants were able to continue regular peanut ingestion over the four years, and more than half were ingesting moderate-to-large amounts of peanuts on a regular basis.

The premise behind the trial centres on changes caused by the probiotic to how the body’s immune system responds to an allergen, in this case peanuts. The probiotic may encourage the immune system to generate a different response to the peanut protein rather than allergic symptoms.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute said larger studies of the probiotic peanut protein treatment were needed to assess long-term safety outcomes. The group is also running a trial to determine whether children can overcome peanut allergies by simply taking the probiotic or whether the peanut protein is needed as well.

See ABC news media for an interview with Professor Mimi Tang, MCRI.