Friday, February 26, 2010



SAN DIEGO - A cure for peanut allergies could be available within three years, a British doctor has claimed as he launches the world's biggest study into the potentially fatal disorder.

Dr Andrew Clark, at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, believes the 1 million ($2.2 million) National Health Service sponsored research project will help rid thousands of children of their allergic reaction to peanuts.

It could also be the beginning of the end for all food allergies, he claimed.

The new study follows a successful former trial in which 23 children were given tiny doses of peanut flour every day, gradually increasing the dose until now they can eat five or more nuts a day.

Previously the children would have risked anaphylactic shock or even death if they accidentally ate even a trace amount of peanut. The team said this was the first time that so-called "desensitisation treatment" had been successful.

Earlier attempts at exposing children with peanut allergies to the nuts caused serious reactions.

The news was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Cambridge group will begin the new study next month with 104 children who have already been recruited, said Dr Clark.

"This is going to be the largest trial of its kind in the world and it should give us a definitive idea of whether it works and whether it's safe," he said.

He said the families involved in the earlier study had had their lives transformed.

"It's dramatic. Before they were checking every food label every time they ate food. They would worry it would cause a reaction or even kill them but now they can go out and eat curries and Chinese food and they can eat everyday snacks and treats."

He said the previous trial had been running for two years and two of the children, aged 15, had dramatically reduced treatments to just five peanuts a week - yet retained their tolerance.

From TODAY, Tuesday, 23-Feb-2010