Probiotics could be an important key to treating food allergies. New research published recently in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health found that a course of probiotics along with oral immunotherapy helped children overcome their peanut allergies and remain desensitized to peanuts for at least four years.
In clinical trials conducted by scientists at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, 62 eligible participants with peanut allergies were enrolled and divided into two groups. One group received a placebo treatment (two formulations of maltodextrin) and the other ingested the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a bacterium commonly found in yogurt and increasing amounts of peanut protein every day for 18 months. At the end of the original trial in 2013, 82% of children who received the immunotherapy treatment were deemed tolerant to peanuts compared with under four percent in the placebo group.
In the recent follow-up study, conducted four years after the original experimental treatment, the children who had gained initial tolerance were still eating peanuts as part of their normal diet, and 70% passed a further challenge test to confirm long-term tolerance.
If confirmed by larger clinical studies, the broader hope is that this treatment can have an impact on the high rates of food allergy among children. Scientists believe that probiotics may be able to help repopulate the “good bacteria” that help prevent us from developing allergies in the first place, said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a pediatric allergist at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Parikh continued: “Every child must be evaluated on a case by case basis because no two allergic individuals are the same. However, this does provide a possible treatment alternative for these children that did not exist before, and that is exciting.”
Anna Almendrala, “A Potential Long-Term Cure for Deadly Peanut Allergies Could Be Around the Corner,” Huffington Post, August 21, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/peanut-allergy-treatment_us_599b410de4b0771ecb068e21.
Australian Associated Press, “Peanut Allergy Cured in Majority of Children in Immunotherapy Trial,” The Guardian, August 16, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/17/peanut-allergy-cured-in-majority-of-children-in-immunotherapy-trial.
Student Researcher: Amber Yang (San Francisco State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)