February 20, 2009

Treatment for peanut allergy tested

British researchers say a hospital in Cambridge is having success with a treatment that may cure nut allergies.

Four children with severe peanut allergies participated in a preliminary clinical trial at Addenbrooke's Hospital in which they were given small amounts of peanut flour every day for six months. The amount of peanut protein given to the children was increased every two weeks until the children could tolerate the equivalent of five peanuts a day without having a life-threatening reaction, The Times of London reported Friday.

A larger study at the hospital is showing similar results, with some children able to eat up to 12 nuts per day. The four children in the original study are maintaining their tolerance with a daily dose of five peanuts a day.

Researcher Andrew Clark said further studies will be conducted to see if the daily peanut dose could be given as a pill. He said the hope is that the children will eventually develop a long-term tolerance to nuts.

Clark warned parents shouldn't try to replicate the study at home. Previous trials that used injections rather than oral doses of peanuts caused serious side-effects.