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News

Fighting food allergies

Duke University Pratt School Of Engineering : 01 January, 2007  (Technical Article)
For individuals with an allergy to peanuts, accidental ingestion can produce a severe reaction. A new study is looking a whether giving tiny doses of peanut protein can build immunity and even eliminate the risk. If successful, researchers may try this approach with other foods that produce allergic reactions.
For individuals with an allergy to peanuts, accidental ingestion can produce a severe reaction. A new study is looking a whether giving tiny doses of peanut protein can build immunity and even eliminate the risk. If successful, researchers may try this approach with other foods that produce allergic reactions.

For more than a million people in the U.S., taking a bite of food containing peanuts can be a life-threatening experience. The allergic reaction can cause severe respiratory problems and even death. One study is looking at a novel treatment for peanut allergy in children. Wesley Burks, chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at DukeUniversityMedicalCenter, says the approach is much the same as using antivenom to gradually build up immunity to bee stings. “What we’re doing is to take small amounts of peanut protein and gradually give increasing amounts over an initial day and then over a period of three-and-a-half to four months. Every other week, we give them a larger dose. At the end of that period, they’re getting about 300 milligrams of peanut protein, which is the equivalent of one peanut.” Burks says early results are encouraging and believes the same approach may work with other food allergies. “If we can find a safe and effective way to do it, there’s nothing specific about the peanut that we couldn’t do it with other foods like milk, eggs and tree nuts.” I’m Cabell Smith for MedMinute.
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