Peanut Allergy: Exciting Breakthroughs in Diagnostic Testing and Treatment!

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During my last 20 years as an allergist, the only advice I could offer to patients with a history of peanut allergies was to avoid peanuts and peanut products. Now, some new research has come out that may end our frustrations! Here’s what’s new:

First, resolved component testing (aka the UKnow Peanut Test), a technique developed by PIRL laboratory in Michigan, a division of Thermo fisher Diagnostics, allows for a more precise way to test for the allergy. The UKnow Peanut Test is a blood test, as opposed to a skin test, that isolates specific proteins in the peanut in order to find out which proteins are dangerous for a person to have and which are most likely cross-reactions to another allergen protein, such as pollen. A study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by Nicholau et al., showed that patients suspected of having a peanut allergy were more likely to have a severe allergic reaction to peanuts if their blood count was elevated for the proteins Ara h1, Ara h2 and Ara h3. The Ara h2, in particular, was linked to severe peanut allergy. I now routinely order this test on patients that are concerned about peanut allergy.

Next, what might be the most exciting news in the allergy field in over 25 years – the successful oral desensitization to peanuts! USA Today profiled a young girl, Kirsten Mahoney, who participated in clinical trials in Iowa for oral desensitization to peanuts. Kirsten completed the study and is now eating the equivalent of 12 peanuts twice a day with no allergic reaction! Kirsten and other peanut allergic children “microdose” with peanut flour, which is added to a food or drink. They start at an extremely low dose under the supervision of their doctor and then continue at home with the same dose. This program takes about 5 months to complete.

Kirsten’s story is truly awe-inspiring. She went from having a potentially fatal peanut allergy to eating peanut M&M”s every day to maintain her tolerance. A great commercial for Hershey’s?

If you have any questions about resolved component testing for peanuts or other foods, please don’t hesitate to contact us on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island

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