A quarter of a peanut can cause some people with allergies to go into anaphylactic shock. A new oral immunotherapy, however, aims to prevent that worst-case scenario.
Medical Arts Allergy in Carlisle offers immunotherapy for those who suffer from peanut and tree nut allergies, though this type of immunotherapy could be expanded to other types of food allergies.
The idea is that slowly increasing the exposure to the allergen will help train the body and immune system and prevent severe symptoms when accidentally exposed to the allergen in the future.
“It’s a very exciting time in food allergies,” said Dr. Krista Todoric of Medical Arts Allergy.
Instead of just offering Palforzia, which is an FDA-approved peanut allergy treatment but can be very expensive, the staff at Medical Arts Allergy mixes its own solutions of peanut flour for an individualized regimen for patients with the goal of getting them to potentially consume four peanuts a day without a severe allergic reaction or potentially any symptoms.
“There are some people who can reach a point to do ‘free eating’ at higher than the daily food dose. They eat as they wish to, depending on how they like it or tolerate it,” Todoric said.
Medical Arts Allergy started providing the immunotherapy in September for patients with peanut allergies before branching into tree nut allergies in January. The treatment could be expanded to milk, eggs, butter, shellfish and other food allergies.
The immunotherapy is for patients of any age, though the allergists may not start the therapy for a child who appears to be growing out of their food allergy.
That, however, often isn’t the case with peanut allergies. Todoric said about 80% of children don’t outgrow a peanut allergy.
Her patients are between the ages of 5 and early 30s, but she said starting the immunotherapy in toddlers ages 18 months to 2 years could help come closer to “curing” a peanut allergy.
Research is still not conclusive as to whether the therapy could have permanent effects if a patient stops taking the solutions or pill.
What is known is that, at the moment, embarking on the immunotherapy would be a lifelong decision.
Todoric said that won’t necessarily mean a peanut solution daily for life, but it could mean taking it a couple times a week or once a week to make sure the body is accustomed to the allergen.
“We try to be as transparent as we can,” she said.
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