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‘Major Step Forward’ For Peanut Allergy Therapy

Allergy UK’s Director of Clinical Services, Maureen Jenkins has described a trial conducted with researchers at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge as a ‘major step forward’ in managing peanut allergy.

As the results are published in the Lancet on 30th January 2014 Maureen Jenkins said: “The fantastic results of this study exceed expectation. Peanut allergy is a particularly frightening food allergy, causing constant anxiety of a reaction from peanut traces. This is a major step forward in the global quest to manage it.”


Full press release from Addenbrookes Hospital follows:

A new therapy for peanut allergy has been successful in the majority of the 99 children who took part in a trial conducted by researchers at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK.

The results of the largest single trial of its kind worldwide are published in The Lancet today [30th January 2014]. Allergy experts found that 84 and 91 per cent of the two groups of children treated with this new form of immunotherapy could eat at least five peanuts a day.

Peanut allergy affects one in fifty children and is the most common cause of fatal food allergy reactions. People with peanut allergy risk anaphylactic shock or even death if they become accidentally exposed to peanut. The fear of accidental exposure in food reduces their quality of life and severely limits the social habits of allergic individuals, their families and even their friends.

The research, supported by the MRC-NIHR (Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research) partnership, involved young people, aged between seven and sixteen, eating daily doses of peanut protein. Starting with a tiny dose and slowly building up over four to six months, they trained their bodies to tolerate the equivalent of five whole peanuts. Peanut allergy affects around half a million people in the UK and over 10 million people across the globe. Unlike other childhood food allergies, such as cow’s milk, peanut allergy rarely goes away.

The Cambridge allergy research team, led by Dr Andrew Clark and Dr Pamela Ewan, are world-renowned and have been leading allergy research for more than 20 years.

Dr Clark said:“Before treatment children and their parents would check every food label and avoiding eating out in restaurants.

“Now most of the patients in the trial can safely eat at least five whole peanuts. The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically.”

Dr Ewan added: “This large study is the first in the world to have had such a good outcome, and is an important advance in peanut allergy research.”

Lena Barden, 11, from Histon in Cambridgeshire, said: “I felt like I had won a prize after I found out I had been picked for the active group. It meant a trip to the hospital every two weeks. A year later I could eat 5 whole peanuts with no reaction at all. The trial has been an experience and adventure that has changed my life and I’ve had so much fun. But I still hate peanuts!”

Thomas Baragwanath, 16, from Holbeach, Lincolnshire, said: “The trial has helped me so much. I don’t have to worry when I go out with my friends about what I’m eating and where it’s come from ‘What’s in it? Where’s it been prepared?’ -  I don’t have to worry at all. It has been a massive problem for me since I was a small child and I’m so thankful I’m getting rid of it. It has really helped me a lot.”

Anna O’Hara, 14, from Coventry, said: “I am very glad to be on this trial as it has meant I can go to more restaurants and try a wider variety of food. Also, I am able to go to friends’ houses more without the worry of having an allergic reaction whilst away from home. It has also meant I am able to go on more school trips without my mum having to come along.”

Maureen Jenkins, Director of Clinical Services at Allergy UK, said: “The fantastic results of this study exceed expectation. Peanut allergy is a particularly frightening food allergy, causing constant anxiety of a reaction from peanut traces. This is a major step forward in the global quest to manage it.”

Lynne Regent, CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign said: “We welcome the positive results of this important study. Such a good outcome for so many of the children who took part demonstrates the importance of oral desensitisation treatment in transforming the lives of those with food allergy. We look forward to seeing further developments in this area to improve patient outcomes.”

The trial was carried out over five and a half years in the NIHR Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at Addenbrooke’s, part of Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH). It was funded by the MRC-NIHR partnership through the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme. Initial pilot work was funded by the Evelyn Trust, Cambridge.

The next step is to make peanut immunotherapy widely available to patients. Further investigation and a licensing review will be required to obtain a product licence from the regulatory authorities, which will take several years. In the meantime, CUH is planning to open a peanut allergy clinic that would make a range of services, including immunotherapy on a named patient basis, available to patients. CUH is working with partners on private and publically funded models.

For further information about the development of peanut immunotherapy and when it will become available in clinics, please register your interest on www.cambridgeallergytherapy.com.


Visit Addenbrookes website for more information


"We have received many comments on this particular article which is fantastic to see so thank you all for commenting. Some of you have further questions about this study. Please see our follow up newsflash where we have hopefully answered your queries. Thanks, Allergy UK."



Hi all good in what you have researched., But what happens if it goes the opposite way.! My daughter is only for and nearly died thru a nut, this to me is a good research but not fully guaranteed to work if their body rejects it.?? This would be my dear.! What do you have to say to that.?

Anyone undergoing this form of immunotherapy would be fully checked before being taken on to the programme to ensure that they would be a good candidate. Immunotherapy starts with very small doses and increases over a period of time until a maintenance dose is reached. This is always done within a hospital environment to ensure the childs safety, and the child would be monitored throughout the procedure. The treatment may not be suitable for everyone allergic to peanuts, but this would be explained to you before any treatment commenced. Addenbrookes have a website that you can go to that has a summary of the findings from the study where you can find out more about the results and any adverse reactions that were noted: http://www.cambridgeallergytherapy.com/news/cambridge-study-peanut-allergy-therapy-shows-84-cent-success You can also register your interest in the development of treatments by Cambridge Allergy Therapy and for updates as they become available in clinics.

My son is 2 3/4 and has just been diagnosed with a peanut allergy after having reactions to Crunchy Nut cornflakes and on another occassion, a tiny bit of chocolate from the side of a Snickers bar. My anxieties have reduced considerably knowing that there may be light at the end of the tunnel and that our son may not have to cope with this for the rest of his life. Wonderful news.

My 5 yr old is severely allergic to tree nuts and sesame, she is being treated at the allergy clinic in Evelina Hospital. She was initially allergic to peanuts also but has some how outgrown it. This research definitely does give us hope that she may one day be able to have at least traces of tree nut and sesame. Thank you for the link-I have been trying to find out how to get involved!

This is amazing news, my son has potentially anaphylactic allergies to both peanuts and sesame seeds, and it really does affect everything about the way we live, checking labels, eating out, children's birthday parties, where we choose to go on holiday. He has been treated by the team at Addenbrooke's from 6 months old (now 6 1/2), and I'm really looking forward to seeing whether he can undergo treatment for his allergies in this way.

My son is 12 now and has had a severe nut allergy for the past 10 years, we would be very interested to find out if there are going to be anymore of the trials available, as we would be very interested, I have already made an appointment to see our local gp to ask for advice, what would you recommend.

Hi Sharon,on the Addenbrookes press release it has a website link where you can register your interest in the development of treatments by Cambridge Allergy Therapy and for updates as they become available in clinics: http://www.cambridgeallergytherapy.com/

Hi Sharon, great work from your team. My 14 yr old son has been tested and has an allergy to all types of nuts i.e tree and ground. Does this treatment only protect you from peanuts or is it all types of nuts?

Is this likely to be attempted with other food allergies. My 14 yr son was diagnosed with severe egg allergy age 1 and was recently diagnosed with shellfish allergy. The egg in particular is a nightmare and every trip out holds fear for him. I think sometimes other food allergies are not taken as seriously as nut allergies even though the reaction and danger is as severe.

I agree with Linda and would be interested to find out if graded exposure can also work with other food allergens? My 8 year old son is allergic (and has been since I weaned him)to dairy products as well as egg, peanut, most other nuts and sesame. For us I think it's fairly easy to avoid peanut compared to dairy or egg. It would be great to have a bit more support and feel as if we could perhaps overcome at least one or two of his allergies one day. At the moment, he sees an allergy specialist once a year for RAST testing and skin pricks but nothing has changed and we have been told testing will be reduced to every other year as his IgE is so high. I have been told he is unlikely to grow out of his allergies as he would have shown signs by now but I do not want to give up hope.

My son is now 9 years old, he has multiple allergies and Peanuts is one of the highest. I am delighted that the treatment procedure has been found. In fact when I heard the news I stood there crying with joy - there is a light at the end of this tunnel after all. I wish well for the entire team of researcher. They have my blessing for trying to think outside the box. and I wish more doctors follow his footsteps in being proactive. Hopefully my son would be able to receive the treatment in St. Mary's hospital soon. Regards

Thanks for all of your comments. Please see the following article for answers to some of your queries. http://www.allergyuk.org/blog/blog/post/130-peanut-study-your-questions-answered Thanks, Allergy UK.

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