peanut allergy

'Game-changer' treatment allows highly allergic children to eat peanuts

A total of 496 young people aged four to 17 years old took part in the two-year trial.

A NEW TREATMENT which allows allergic children to eat peanuts has been described as “revolutionary”. 

The findings - published in the New England Journal of Medicine – show that more than two-thirds of children on the immunotherapy trial can now safely eat peanuts, the most common food allergy and the single cause of most food allergy deaths.

A total of 496 young people aged four to 17 years old took part in the trial that used a drug, AR101, which is derived from peanuts and which desensitises people with an allergy.

In the study -  the world’s largest peanut allergy treatment trial -  67% of children taking the drug could consume and tolerate peanuts after the trial.

More than 30 Irish children took part.

The immunotherapy treatment works by introducing very small controlled amounts of peanut protein into a person’s system, building up a their tolerance over a period of six to 12 months. 

Children treated with AR101 who remained sensitive had milder reactions and used adrenaline injections “much less often” at the end of the trial.


Paediatrician Jonathan Hourihane has been leading the Irish side of the “revolutionary” trial and says that patients have gone from being “highly allergic” to minute doses of peanut to being able to ingest the equivalent of two to three peanuts “without a significant reaction.”

Hourihane, of INFANT Centre at University College Cork, has said that “this tolerance gives peanut allergy sufferers real safety, and the ability to cope with accidental exposure in the community.”

“We have seen patients go from being highly allergic to very small doses, like one tenth of a peanut, to being able to manage to eat the equivalent of 2 or 3 peanuts without a significant reaction,” says Hourihane. 

This is a game changer for anyone living with this allergy.
The AR101 drug is expected to be fast-tracked to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US. 
Pending FDA approval, the drug could be available to patients globally by late 2019. 
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