Peanut Allergy Vaccine

By: Helen Chickering
By: Helen Chickering

If you're like me and have a child with peanut allergies, you have to play food detective, on the hunt for hidden peanut products that can trigger deadly reactions.

Right now avoiding the nut is the only option for allergic youngsters, but that may soon change. Human trials of a peanut allergy vaccine are about to get underway.

Got a peanut allergic youngster in the house who's craving peanut butter? Today there are options. In the future there may be a cure.

"And so we are just now at the point where we have a product that we feel will be safe to people to give them."

Dr. Wesley Burks is part of a national food allergy research consortium that has been developing a peanut allergy vaccine. The experimental therapy works much like the desensitization shots people receive to overcome more common allergies.

"They might accidentally eat a cookie with peanuts and then not have a reaction."

But because even a small amount of peanuts can be deadly to those who are allergic, the scientists had to modify peanut proteins in the vaccine, a major hurdle that took years to prefect.

"We've actually taken those allergenic portions out of it, so that's what we'll use for the vaccine. It's like a hypoallergenic peanut product."

Now the therapy is heading into a five-year human study.

"Ultimately what you would hope to do is to truly make they tolerant so that their allergies are totally gone way. That's what we hope to do with the vaccine."

For now, stick with the alternatives.

Dr. Burks says they hope to start testing the peanut allergy vaccine in adults and adolescents in the next six months. Study subjects will receive a series of shots.

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