"As a parent of two children with nut allergies, I know the fear parents face and the need for better treatments," shared Edward Kim.
A father may have found a new way to counter the hypersensitivities that people allergic to peanuts face. Edwin Kim, a father of two, reportedly came up with an innovative treatment called sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) after his 9-month-old son suffered a severe allergic reaction. That's when he began developing a safer and effective remedy to protect his children and others suffering from a similar condition. Kim, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, was the lead author in this research study which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology recently.
Dad Develops New Treatment for Peanut Allergies With Almost No Side Effects After Son Suffers Severe Reactionhttps://t.co/7AXnGnvfTQ— Good News Network (@goodnewsnetwork) 4 September 2019
"As a parent of two children with nut allergies, I know the fear parents face and the need for better treatments," shared Kim according to the Good News Network. "We now have the first long-term data showing that sublingual immunotherapy is safe and tolerable while offering a strong amount of protection," he said of the treatment. This procedure requires one to place a minute amount of liquefied peanut protein under their tongue, where it is immediately absorbed and introduced into the bloodstream. This microscopic amount of protein thus helps in desensitizing the immune system to larger quantities of the same.
Kim further shared how ingesting even 100 milligrams of peanut protein could easily trigger a severe allergic reaction in such people. And this is the sort of trace amount that could be present in one's food that has been "manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts." His main objective behind this study was to keep people safe from such substances in case they appear in their food accidentally. "The main idea beyond immunotherapy is not for kids to be able to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s to keep them safe from the small hidden exposures that could occur with packaged foods, at restaurants, and with other food exposures," he said.
Clinical scientists have developed three main immunotherapeutic methods to treat nut allergies and each of them involves desensitizing the immune system to this particular protein in order to avoid severe allergic reactions in patients reports the outlet. The first approach requires a patch on the skin that releases controlled amounts of peanut protein into the bloodstream through the skin to the desensitize the immune system. This procedure proved to be safe in clinical research, however, it wasn't as effective as it should have been. Hence, the treatment wasn't approved by the FDA.
As for the second method, oral immunotherapy (OIT) requires one to ingest a minute amount of the said protein every day, over a period of time. This, in turn, helps to desensitize the immune system in case of any accidental exposure. Patients were asked to take in 0.5 mg of peanut which slowly increased to 300 mg over time and remained the same following this. Although the treatment resulted to be very effective in protecting the patients, it had serious side effects. Currently, this procedure is awaiting a response from the FDA where it is now being reviewed.
Now for the third approach, we have SLIT which as mentioned required one to place the protein under their tongue. As the peanut protein avoids digestion, patients are started with about 0.0002 mg which increases over the course of months only to become 2 mg. And Kim chose to go with this one. The whole procedure started back in 2011, when Kim and Wesley Burks, the dean of the UNC School of Medicine, conducted a small-scale study involving 18 patients to prove that SLIT was actually a safe and effective when taken over a course of one year. Ever since then, they have been following 48 patients who have been regularly receiving 2 mg of the substance for five years in Phase-2 clinical trials.
While 67% of the patients were able to endure 750 mg of peanut protein without having any serious side effects, 25% of the lot was able to tolerate 5000 mg. "SLIT participants tolerated between 10 and 20 times more peanut protein than it would take for someone to get sick," revealed Kim. As compared to OIT, SLIT showed much less risk of grave side effects. Although the most common side effect was itchiness caused around the mouth, it only lasted for about 15 minutes and did not require any treatment to subside. "We think this provides a good cushion of protection—maybe not quite as good as OIT—but with an easier mechanism (sublingually) and, as far as we can tell right now, a better safety signal," expressed Kim.