NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBSNews) – A promising new treatment could help children suffering from peanut allergies.
A clinical trial showed that daily use of a peanut protein could help ward off an allergy attack. As CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. John LaPook reported, the treatment could be a life-changer for some families.
Aidan Robertson, 12, and his mother, Lisa, didn’t know he was allergic until he ate peanut butter at age 2.
“It’s horrifying. That moment when you see your child, all of a sudden they’re – his face was swelling and swelling and swelling,” she recalled.
Doctors quickly treated Aidan with an antihistamine. But every day, the Robertsons are on guard against an allergy attack, avoiding any food that might contain peanuts.
“Peanut oil, too. You don’t know how many things that’s actually in, and it’s in a lot of things,” said Aidan.
Now, a company called Aimmune is offering a new assault against peanut allergies. In its study, it gave increasingly larger doses of peanut protein powder sprinkled over food to nearly 500 children ages 4 to 17. At the end of six months, 67 percent of them were able to tolerate the equivalent of roughly two peanuts – enough to avoid a potentially deadly reaction to a small, accidental exposure.
“It changes the way the immune system sees ‘peanut.’ So it changes it from seeing it as something dangerous to something that’s safe,” Dr. Jonathan Tam, a pediatric allergy specialist who helped recruit test subjects, explained. “It’s not going to be for everybody. But for certain families that are very anxious about having accidental exposures, this is a great therapy for them.”
Doctors caution the treatment is not a cure for peanut allergies.
Some children had serious side effects to the treatment.
The company plans to file for FDA approval by the end of the year.