I'm a reporter with WCNC in Charlotte doing a story on a desensitization trial at Duke University. I'm following a little girl who has done incredibly well in it... tests now suggest she could eat one peanut safely and she could not have done that two years ago when she entered. At that time there was much concern voiced in response to the email her mother posted here... I've attached it below as well as more information from Duke on the study. Wondered if there is still such hesitation on the part of parents to take part in this trial? Any responses would be appreciated.
posted April 15, 2004 08:58 PM
My 4 year old daughter has just been asked to participate in a study conducted by Dr. Wesley Burks at Duke University Medical Center. It sounds good and then very scary at the same time. Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with this? She will be given small amounts of penut protein over a period of 16 weeks until she reaches the equivilent of one peanut and then will continue that. She will have her blood drawn every three months as well as have the skin prick test. The outcome could be great but it also could be dangerous for her. Any thoughts?
Previous scientific studies have looked at different types of allergy shots in patients who have peanut allergy. Given the high rate of undesirable allergic reactions in the patients in these studies and the repeated rate of accidental peanut ingestion, other forms of immunotherapy are needed for this potentially fatal allergy. Oral immunotherapy has been studied for the treatment of nasal allergies and food allergy, as well as drugs such as antibiotics and biological agents. In the most recent studies on oral immunotherapy with patients who have food allergy (milk, peanut, egg and fish), the majority of patients (85%) successfully completed the treatment regimen. Although not scientifically thorough, these studies demonstrated that the mild side effects associated with treatment were controlled by the occasional use of antihistamines.
This pilot study proposal is designed to find out if we can use oral peanut immunotherapy in subjects allergic to peanuts. Our hypothesis is that oral peanut immunotherapy will make subjects who have peanut allergy less allergic and induce changes in their immune system. The goal of this proposal is to produce a new treatment that would benefit these subjects by lowering the risk of anaphylactic reactions (desensitization) and changing the peanut-specific immune response in subjects who have peanut allergy (tolerance). We will work with subjects who are at risk for life-long peanut sensitivity (peanut specific IgE > 15 kIU/ml in blood studies and significant initial symptoms). We anticipate being able to make these subjects less allergic to peanuts and cause long-term immune changes in their peanut allergic response. The specific aims for this proposal are to: (1) make use of oral peanut immunotherapy to treat subjects with peanut allergy to lower the risk of anaphylactic reactions and cause children to outgrow their peanut allergy, and (2) determine the effect that oral peanut immunotherapy has on the peanut-specific immune response.