Protein therapy a safe approach to treat toddlers with peanut allergy: Study

A tiny bit of protein therapy under the tongue could be a safe and effective approach in treating peanut-allergic children ranging from 1 to 4 years of age, a new study has shown.

According to the study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the Peanut Sublingual Immunotherapy (Peanut SLIT) is safe in peanut-allergic toddlers, with a greater likelihood of desensitisation and remission the earlier the treatment began.

This is the first randomised controlled experiment to look into the efficacy and feasibility of SLIT, which involves a tiny bit of peanut protein absorbed under the tongue, in this young age group.

The study included peanut-allergic children randomised to receive 4 mg peanut SLIT versus placebo. A total of 50 participants were enrolled. 

The findings showed that peanut SLIT can be highly effective in treating peanut-allergic toddlers, with almost 80 per cent tolerating 15 peanuts without allergic symptoms after completing the treatment. 

In addition, researchers showed that remission of the peanut allergy may be possible after peanut SLIT, with 63 per cent of the toddlers maintaining their protection three months after stopping the treatment. 

“The desensitisation levels we saw were higher than expected and on par with levels we normally would only expect with oral immunotherapy. Just as important, rather than wearing off quickly, we were excited to see that over 60 per cent stayed protected three months after stopping the treatment,” said Edwin Kim, corresponding author of the study, MD, associate professor of paediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine in the US.

One of the presumed strengths of the SLIT approach, when compared to OIT (oral immunotherapy) has been its overall safety and simple administration, the study mentioned.

Compared to OIT, the SLIT approach is likely to be a safer option, with the most common side effect consisting of oral itching. Treatments that can protect children from allergic reactions while still being safe and practical for busy families can be life-changing, and researchers are hopeful that peanut SLIT can be one of those options, according to Kim.

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