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Landmark study offers hope for peanut allergy sufferers

Researchers from Evelina London Children’s Hospital and King’s College London have taken part in a major study that could lead to a ground-breaking new treatment for peanut allergy.

Peanut allergy is a potentially life-threatening condition and affects around 1 in 50 children in the UK. Peanut allergy is rarely outgrown and is the most common cause of food allergy deaths.

Professor George du Toit, children’s allergy consultant at Evelina London and the UK chief investigator for the study, said: “The results of this ground-breaking study are very promising and suggest that we will be able to protect children who are allergic to peanuts from having a severe reaction after accidental exposure.

“This is extremely good news as the number of children being diagnosed with peanut allergy in the UK has more than doubled over the past two decades. Peanut allergy is extremely difficult to manage for children and their families, as they have to follow a strict peanut free diet. Families live in fear of accidental exposure as allergic reactions can be very severe, and can even lead to death.

“Until recently there has been nothing to offer peanut allergy suffers other than education around peanut avoidance and recognition and self-treatment of allergic reactions.

“These findings could lead to a significant shift in our management of peanut allergy as we now have data from a large randomised trial that oral immunotherapy worked for most of the participants.”

The results of the PALISADE study mean people living with severe peanut allergy could be protected from life-threatening reactions that arise through accidental exposure by building their tolerance level. This type of treatment is known as immunotherapy, and is already used to treat pollen and bee sting allergies.

The PALISADE trial recruited nearly 500 children aged four to 17 from over 60 sites across the US and Europe. Evelina London was one of the lead recruiters to the study, which is the largest ever peanut allergy treatment trial.

Read the full story at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust