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Allergic to peanuts? New hope develops after promising clinical trial

November 20, 2018 06:47 AM

There's a new hope for people with peanut allergies.

The current edition of The New England Journal of Medicine highlights a clinical trial that shows promise for people who have reactions to even the smallest exposure to peanuts.

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The University of Rochester is one of the study sites.

"This is much more about anxiety relief...it certainly does provide some level of protection against life-threatening reactions to small amounts as well," said Dr. Kirsi Jarvinen-Seppo, chief of pediatric allergy & immunology and the doctor leading this local clinical trial.

Jarvinen-Seppo is describing life for scores of people who are allergic to peanuts, people like Jack Steiner. Life changed for him and his family when, as a toddler, the family discovered his allergy.

"It's harder when he wants to go to friends' houses or stay at birthday parties, when you don't know where the food comes from. So you're always worried. There's a food that's common in homes and in schools that can give your child a life-threatening reaction and that's very anxiety provoking," said Jack's mother, Laurie Steiner. 

But there is hope for Jack and millions like him thanks to AR-101.

A recent study shows that this medication has proved successful in reducing reaction to peanuts in two-thirds of participants. 

Researchers gave participants small doses of peanuts until they could tolerate up to 600 milligrams or four peanuts without a reaction. As an extension of that study, the U of R is testing the drug's safety and efficacy, if used every day.

"This could be lifesaving for individuals who are so reactive that they could have an anaphylactic reaction to a very small amount of product that is only present in say a cross-contact situation," said Jarvinen-Seppo.

And life-changing for a seven year old who was relegated to a certain table in the school lunch room. 

Jack has been taking the medicine since the summer.

"That made me feel better and a little more safe around peanuts," said Jack Steiner. 

Jarvinen-Seppo is clear to state that this is not a cure and does not advise anyone with a peanut allergy to start eating small amounts of peanuts. She says it is a promising study that could one day lead to a cure. 

In the meantime, researchers are hoping for FDA approval. The drug could be made available in a year if the FDA does approve it.

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Lynette Adams

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