Progress Toward a Cure for Nut Allergies

Justin Yniquez (12th), Reporter

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Food allergies are quite uncommon around America with only about 4% of Americans having some type of allergy pertaining to a certain kind of food. The severity of these allergies can range from mild irritation to possibly deadly reactions when exposed to certain foods. Many test and trials have been made in an effort to cure these allergic reactions, but have only had little or no success in doing so. However, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a nasal spray that prevents mice from experiencing allergic reactions to nuts when the medicine is administered monthly.

 

Although mice are not the same as humans are physically, it is important that this task has been successfully performed in a mammal species.

 

In order to experiment their work, they created the peanut allergy in the mice. When exposed to nuts, the mice showed signs of an allergic reaction similar to those of human signs of itchy skin and trouble breathing.

 

Once the mice were set-up with the nut allergy, researchers administered a nasal spray vaccine monthly for 3 months. The spray was meant to act as an immunotherapy, changing the way how the immune system responds to nuts. Not only the spray suppress the allergic response, but prevents cells that trigger the allergic reaction from activating.

 

After the three months have passed, the mice with the nut allergies were exposed to nuts and were completely fine for up to two weeks.

 

Another treatment that has shown quite some success has been the experimental treatment of nut desensitizing at the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas.

 

Treatment process includes intentionally exposing peanuts gradually in small amounts, to help strengthen resistance to the nut allergen. This treatment is held in a controlled environment where close observations are made if an allergic reaction would occur. The patients are given pills with gradually increasing doses of peanut powder.

 

This treatment does not fully cure patients, but designed to desensitize, or decrease sensitivity to peanuts. The results allow the patients to feel more safe and protected when peanuts are in their vicinity.  

 

Although there is a lot more work to be done to develop a working and efficient allergy cure, researchers hope that this study of nut allergies can help them understand more about all food allergies and figure out how to change the immune system to treat these allergies.

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