Australian scientists have developed a treatment that provides relief from peanut allergies for up to four years, it was announced on Thursday.
Studies have found that around 2 percent of Australian adults and 5 percent of children have allergies to at least one food with an allergy to peanuts being the most common.
A small clinical trial conducted at Murdoch Children's Research Institute helped two-thirds of children rid of their allergy to peanuts through experimental immunotherapy.
Instead of avoiding peanuts, the treatment is created to reset the way the immune system responds to peanuts so it no longer produces an allergic reaction.
"We had children who came into the study allergic to peanuts, having to avoid peanuts in their diet, being very vigilant around that, carrying a lot of anxiety", she said.
Children who are allergic to peanuts may soon be able to consume the nuts as part of their regular diet, Victorian researchers have found.
Breakthrough in treatment for peanut allergy
"At the end of treatment, and even four years later, many of these children who had benefited from our probiotic peanut therapy could now live like a child who didn't have peanut allergy". According to Tang, the combination of probiotics with the immunotherapy gives required "nudge" to the immune system.
At the end of the first stage of the trial in 2013, 82 per cent of children who received the probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy treatment were deemed tolerant to peanuts compared with just four per cent in the placebo group. This meant they were given a probiotic treatment called lactobacillus rhamnosus, with a peanut protein or a placebo, once a day for 18 months.
"This is a major step forward in identifying an effective treatment to address the food allergy problem in Western societies", Prof Tang said.
She went on to explain that the study results hope to change the lives of children with peanut allergies and maybe all food allergies.
Researchers are now aiming to confirm the results with a larger study of the treatment they say "holds important implications for attacking the modern food allergy epidemic".
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