Vaccine for peanut allergy? It’s not nuts
Potentially fatal peanut allergies could become a thing of the past following the successful first trial of a new vaccine at The University of Adelaide.
The vaccine was successful in mice using a virus-based platform to rewrite the body's natural response to peanut allergens.
The reaction causes a non-allergic immune response instead of an allergic one. The next phase will evaluate its efficiency on humans.
Peanuts are one of the most common food allergies and the most likely food to cause anaphylaxis or death. In Australia one in 200 adults or three in every 100 children are affected.
Project lead, Dr Preethi Eldi said the new peanut allergy vaccine has great potential to change lives.
"The impact peanut allergy can have on a family is all consuming, especially given the very real risks to a child's heath," Dr Eldi said.
"If we can deliver an effective peanut allergy vaccine, we'll remove this stress, concern, and constant monitoring, freeing the child and their family from the constraints and dangers of peanut allergy."
Isabella Staikopoulos, 10, has been living with her peanut allergy since she was one.
Her mother, Sam Pead said she is always cautious when going to restaurants and events. Ms Pead said Isabella's allergy is anaphylactic, so they can't risk having peanuts or peanut products in the house
"Before kids' parties I always ring and speak to the mothers," Ms Pead, from West Croydon said.
Ms Pead said a vaccine to Isabella's allergy would be helpful. "It's one less thing to worry about," she said.
Dr Eldi said the vaccine tricks the immune system so the body responds normally instead of generating an allergic reaction.
"The next steps are to gain further human samples and confirm the efficacy of the vaccine."
A peanut allergic reaction can range from mild hives, cramps, nausea and vomiting, to life threatening anaphylactic reactions including impaired breathing, swelling of the throat, a sudden drop in blood pressure, dizziness and even death.
Clinicians involved in the research remain optimistic and said they hope the next step will be a cure for peanut allergy.