By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The numbers are quite impressive. Over two million people in the United States suffer from peanut allergy and far too many deaths are attributed to food allergies each year. Many people ask if there is any cure on the horizon for peanut allergies.
The best work that has been completed thus far is from Duke researchers. They have used the technique called oral immunotherapy to deal with the allergy. Here’s how it works:
Allergic children in the study group spend a day in the hospital swallowing minuscule, but slowly increasing doses of peanut flour until they have a reaction. The children are then sent home with a dose of peanut flour after 8 months to 10 months of gradual increase. At that point, the researchers find out if the children can eat the equivalent of 15 peanuts, if they are able to do this, the amount is slowly increased.
This is all very early in the process and success is not even close to 100%.
The bottom line here is we don’t have a cure, but we may be able to, in controlled situations, possibly desensitize. Please remember that all of this is happening in a controlled setting under vigorous medical supervision.