The results of a 3 year study of the effectiveness of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for desensitization of peanut allergy in children was published today in the medical journal The Lancet.
The study, co-sponsored by the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, followed 85 children aged 7-16 with confirmed peanut allergy from January 2010 through March 2013.
In the first phase of the study, half were given peanut flour in gradually increasing doses as part of a 6-month course of OIT (the active group), half were given placebo (the control group.) In the second phase of the study, the control group underwent OIT.
The primary goal was achievement of peanut desensitization, defined as no reaction to a dose of 1400mg of peanut protein, equivalent to 10 peanuts. The secondary goal was defined as no reaction to a dose of 800mg of peanut protein, equvalent to 5 peanuts.
Upon completion of the study, 54% tolerated the 1400mg dose with no reaction, 91% tolerated the 800mg dose. Side effects were mild in most participants including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Administration of epinephrine was necessary in one participant.
Quoting from the study:
OIT successfully induced desensitisation in most children within the study population with peanut allergy of any severity, with a clinically meaningful increase in peanut threshold. Quality of life improved after intervention and there was a good safety profile. Immunological changes corresponded with clinical desensitisation. Further studies in wider populations are recommended; peanut OIT should not be done in non-specialist settings, but it is effective and well tolerated in the studied age group.