November 11, 2013
Peanut Allergy Cured In Boy After Receiving Lifesaving Transplant
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Doctors have witnessed the first-ever curing of a dangerous peanut allergy in a 10-year-old boy, according to research presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Baltimore over the weekend.
“It has been reported that bone marrow and liver transplants can transfer peanut allergy from donor to recipient,” said Dr. Yong Luo, an ACAAI member and lead study author. “But our research found a rare case in which a transplant seems to have cured the recipient of their allergy.”
The young boy was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at 15 months old after suffering hives on his entire body and vomiting upon being exposed to the nuts. When he was four years old, the boy was diagnosed with a form of acute lymphocytic leukemia. After chemotherapy treatments, the boy eventually needed a bone marrow transplant. The transplant was successful, and the boy’s leukemia went into remission.
Based on previous research, the boys’ allergist suspected the child’s bone marrow transplant may have cured him of his peanut allergy.
“We kept him well by avoiding (peanuts),” Dr. Steven Weiss, an allergist and fellow of the ACAAI, told Fox News. “We kept something called an EpiPen around, and he never had any accidental ingestion.”
Two years after the bone marrow transplant, Weiss confirmed his suspicion that the boy had been cured by administering an “oral challenge.” Considered the best form of food allergy testing, the oral challenge involves patients gradually being exposed to small amounts of their allergen in an attempt to gauge a reaction.
“He came into the office, and we gave him peanut butter,” Weiss said. “He did not have any reaction. He was able to go home and reintroduce that into his diet. He no longer needs an EpiPen.
“This case, in addition to the previous reports, indicates that genetic modification during the early stages of immune cell development in bone marrow may play a large role in causing allergy,” Weiss added.
According to ACAAI, peanuts are the most common food allergen among school-aged children in the United States, affecting approximately 400,000 individuals. Unlike other food allergies, peanut allergy tends to last a lifetime.
If a parent suspects their child may no longer have an allergy, the ACAAI recommends proper testing be carried out by a board-certified allergist to substantiate if the child is still susceptible to a particular allergen.
“Food allergies are serious and can cause a severe, life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis,” Weiss said. “It’s important to be under the regular care of an allergist who can perform proper tests and administer treatment.”
The study researchers said they hope this case may allow for more insight into the development of allergies in individuals, but noted bone marrow transplants aren’t a realistic treatment option for others with the same allergy.
“It’s not a treatment we could see in the future; bone marrow transplants are risky procedures,” Weiss said. “It was the silver lining to his cancer.”