This groundbreaking new piece of research could offer a life-saving reprieve for people suffering from the constant danger of accidentally being exposed to peanuts.
According to a new study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, a drug called AR101 has been shown to prevent deadly allergy attacks in patients who are extremely sensitive to peanuts.
“Because there is no approved treatment for peanut allergy, the standard of care has been a strict elimination diet and the timely administration of rescue medications in case of an allergic reaction on accidental exposure,” reads the study.
“However, despite vigilance, accidental exposures may occur and cause reactions of unpredictable severity, even with small amounts of allergen, leading to a lifelong risk of severe reactions.”
The oral treatment, which was designed by biopharmaceutical company Aimmune Therapeutics, is designed to gradually increase a patient’s tolerance to peanuts over the course of 6 months.
In the study, which is being hailed as the largest and first successful phase 3 peanut allergy immunotherapy trial to date, the drug was given to 555 people between the ages of 4 and 55, although the vast majority of them were under 17. All of them were tested and diagnosed with extreme sensitivities to peanuts, with a median peanut tolerance of about 10 milligrams.
By the end of the year-long trial, two-thirds of the young participants were able to ingest the researchers’ goal of 600 milligrams of peanut protein (roughly two peanuts worth) without displaying any allergic symptoms. Half of the patients were then able to go on and ingest 1,000 milligrams of peanut protein without any reactions.
“I can just go to college, meet a bunch of kids, go sit in a place another kid was the day before and not have to wipe off the desk, and not worry about what my friends are eating around me,” one of the teenage patients told the New York Times. “To me, a peanut was like a weapon, like you have a gun to your head and you could have the trigger pulled any time. There’s not really that gun anymore.”
The pharmaceutical company plans on filing for FDA approval in December – and if it is approved, it could be available to families as early as 2019.
“This publication in the New England Journal of Medicine signifies our progress and momentum towards making an approved therapy available to the millions of families who want a robust, reliable peanut allergy treatment that can provide protection in cases of accidental exposures. We are excited to be submitting our applications for marketing approval in the United States next month and in Europe in the middle of next year,” said Jayson Dallas, President and CEO of Aimmune.