Developing allergen-free peanuts

Posted on: Sun, 06/07/2015 - 4:12am
chloeg17's picture
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Joined: 06/07/2015 - 10:57

Hi everyone!

My name is Chloe, and I just founded a company to research and develop allergen-free peanuts. One of my best friends is allergic to peanuts, and I jumped at the opportunity when I offered some funding to start R&D on this. I'm interested in hearing what you all think about a peanut without allergens - would you try them and would you want to see airlines, food producers, school cafeterias, etc. switch over to this instead? Would love you hear your thoughts, and I can answer any questions you may have.

We're still in early R&D, but the technology is extremely promising, and I'm hoping to raise more funding for our project. Interest from your community would very encouraging and informative for us on this journey!

You can find us at www.aranexbio.com, email me personally at chloe.gui@gmail.com / info@aranexbio.com, or follow us on Twitter @aranexbio.

Best,
Chloe

Posted on: Mon, 06/08/2015 - 4:10am
Sarah McKenzie's picture
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Joined: 04/08/2013 - 07:37

I think this is a wonderful idea. Best of luck to you!!!

Posted on: Fri, 06/12/2015 - 11:46am
PeanutAllergy.com's picture
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Joined: 06/21/2013 - 11:03

Thanks for reaching out to our community, Chloe! This research is fascinating and provides much-needed hope for a safer world in the future.
Research into developing hypoallergenic peanuts appears to have started in the early 2000s. Two previous discussions in our community report on preliminary research by the USDA, which you can read here and here. Learn about more recent developments
">here.
Members of our community have shared their thoughts about this research in previous discussions:

  • One member wonders how peanut-allergic individuals can tell the difference between allergen-free peanuts and regular ones. Check out that discussion here.
  • Another member finds the research to be “very interesting and promising,” while fellow members who commented on the post aren’t so optimistic. See that discussion here.
  • A member who commented on another previous post is worried about friends and family members trusting something like “hypoallergenic” peanuts, while parents of PA kids may exercise more caution. That discussion can be found here.
  • Yet another discussion includes some skeptical remarks from our members, which you can read here.

We asked members of our Facebook community if they would try allergen-free peanuts, and you can see their responses here.
We hope you find this information helpful. We’re looking forward to learning more about this groundbreaking research – and hopefully one day living in a world where every peanut is safe for all.

Posted on: Fri, 06/12/2015 - 10:09pm
chloeg17's picture
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Joined: 06/07/2015 - 10:57

Thank you all so much! This is immensely helpful :)

Posted on: Sun, 06/14/2015 - 3:00am
jlince's picture
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Joined: 07/01/2009 - 08:22

My son, who is now 16, has been dealing with this peanut/tree nut allergy his whole life and we have NO desire to have an allergen free peanut developed. The idea is very frightening that these could be confused with the real peanut! Many people still do not understand this allergy and which foods contain or are processed with nuts, so this is one more issue to add to it. We would like a vaccine that would keep it from being a life threatening issue, and we hear it is in the works.

Posted on: Sun, 06/14/2015 - 10:58pm
rhondakallen13@gmail.com's picture
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Joined: 06/15/2015 - 05:54

That would be so awesome. I am an adult that developed a peanut allergy and I remember standing in the peanut butter isle and crying. I really miss peanuts after having them so long.

Posted on: Mon, 06/15/2015 - 12:21am
smithdcrk's picture
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Joined: 03/13/2014 - 16:46

There are mutliple proteins that uniquely identify a peanut, as well as those connected to the family, order and genus of the species. An allergen is a reaction to a specific protein. While you may have a room full of PA people, not all are reactive to the same protein or combination of proteins that define a peanut.
If a peanut can be represented as a collection of specific proteins, and the individual's immune system reacts to one or more my questions: Are you eliminating the specific proteins? Or denaturing them? Is this a post harvest process? or a GMO? If you remove these proteins, is it still a peanut?
Depending on the process, the label would probably still need to read "May contain peanuts" or "Made in a facility that processes peanuts."
Unless the individual knows their specifc peanut triggers this product may still be highly allergenic. My daughter recently participated in a test to see which proteins, isolated from the peanut, cause a reaction. They all did, except for the legume protein. Which is why she is able to eat soy, beans and peas, but not peanuts.

Posted on: Mon, 06/15/2015 - 5:52am
Jff's picture
Jff
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Joined: 05/26/2015 - 09:34

I've been severely allergic to peanuts since birth and having lived 33 years without eating peanuts, I have exactly zero desire to eat any peanut ever, allergen-free or otherwise. I've tried soy butter and SunButter out of curiosity but I draw the line at real, honest-to-Wolowitz, top-hat-and-monocle-wearing peanuts. Partly because I doubt the processes will be advanced enough in my lifetime to make peanuts 100% safe for those as severely allergic as I and partly because I wouldn't want to support a peanut industry that has fought tooth-and-nail against any attempt to protect people with peanut allergies.
That said, I would definitely hope to see schools at the very least, and also restaurants, food manufacturers, airlines, sports and entertainment venues, etc. switching to allergy-friendly* peanuts simply to reduce the risk of dangerous reactions resulting from accidental contamination. We can be as careful to avoid peanuts as humanly possible but there is always going to be risk of contact as long as they are being produced so replacing evil peanuts with allergy-friendly peanuts would be beneficial to us regardless of whether we choose to consume them or not. Even if allergy-friendly peanuts are never 100% allergy-safe, both the frequency and the severity of reactions could be significantly reduced if choosy moms chose allergy-friendly Jif.
However there would definitely need to be strict labeling regulations. It would be very easy for a company to put a giant label on a cookie package that says "We Use Allergen-Free Peanuts!" neglecting to specify that only 5% of the peanuts they use are allergy-friendly. Also, if allergy-friendly peanuts become popular enough, food suppliers - both those who have and those who haven't switched - may become lax in their labeling, neglecting to include the dreaded "may contain" and "processed in a facility" warnings when those warnings are justified.
Bottom line: while I applaud your efforts to make the world safer for peanut kids, it will be a long while before I deviate from my doctor's mandate of "strict avoidance."
*I strongly encourage use of "allergy-friendly" over "allergy-safe" or "allergen-free" wherever the latter two may not be entirely accurate. "Our ultimate goal is to create allergen-free peanuts" is a-ok but "We're on the verge of creating allergen-free peanuts" would probably be better served by "allergy-friendly" unless or until you're absolutely certain I won't die if I eat one. I'm also not a huge fan of "hypoallergenic" since many people assume it means "non-allergenic" rather than "less allergenic" which can be a huge distinction.

Posted on: Sun, 06/28/2015 - 2:18pm
kfon08's picture
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Joined: 05/09/2011 - 13:26

It would depend on how they look like so I can teach my son which ones are safe and which ones are not. But generally, I think I would trust the product a bit more if it was already processed, say allergen free peanut butter.
Good luck!
Karina

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