PAfter receiving the results of the largest study of its kind in the world, people suffering from allergies gained new hope.
Children who were diagnosed with severe allergies took part in a study in which they were given an increasing amount of peanut protein for one year.
A groundbreaking trial showed that participants who are usually unable to tolerate exposure up to one tenth of a single peanut could eventually deal with two full peanuts.
It is believed that by gradually increasing the level of tolerance, allergy sufferers can protect themselves against accidental exposure.
Researchers from Evelina London Children & # 39; s Hospital and King & # 39; s College London took part in a study suggesting that immunotherapeutic treatment, already used to treat pollen allergies and bee stings, can protect people from life-threatening reactions.
The PALISADE study employed nearly 500 children aged 4 to 17 years from the United States and Europe to participate in the largest peanut allergy trial ever.
Participants were divided into groups that received a nutty capsule or dummy powder.
The doses were gradually increased every two weeks for six months, and then the maintenance dose of peanuts was continued for the next six months.
The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that about two-thirds (67%) of children and adolescents can tolerate at least 600 mg of nutty protein, compared with only four percent of participants on placebo.
Professor George Du Toit, a consultant for Children's Allergies at Evelina London and lead researcher in the study, said: "Nut allergies are extremely difficult to manage for children and their families because they have to follow a raw peanut diet.
"Families live in fear of accidental exposure, because allergic reactions can be very severe and even lead to death.
"Until recently, there was nothing to offer peanut allergy suffers other than education regarding the avoidance of peanuts and the recognition and independent treatment of allergic reactions."
Sophie Pratt, 44, from Kentish Town, North London, wrote down her six-year-old daughter Emily, who had been allergic to peanuts since she was one of them.
"The study completely changed our lives," she said. "Before Emily took part, we felt uncomfortable being more than twenty minutes from the hospital and unable to attend dates and games without my or my husband's.
"We had to constantly study food labels to make sure that peanuts were completely eliminated from Emily's diet, and the allergy was very serious, so even a small amount of peanut could have led to a very serious reaction." The impact on our family life was enormous. "
Mrs. Pratt said that by the end of the one-year trial, Emily was able to tolerate about seven peanuts.
Allergy to peanuts, a potentially life threatening condition, has doubled in the last two decades and affects about 1 in 50 children in the UK.
Allergy rarely develops and is the most common cause of deaths of food allergies.
The PALISADE study was funded by Aimmune Therapeutics, which produces peanut protein used in the trial.