Researchers Test New Food Allergy Treatment

A new food allergy treatment could allow children to safely consume foods that once would have been life-threatening, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University are hoping.

The scientists are testing whether “sublingual therapy,” in which tiny amounts of the allergenic substance–such as milk–are placed under the patient’s tongue, could desensitize the body enough to allow it to move on to “oral immunotherapy,” in which the patient swallows small amounts of the substance.  In experiments, kids who did sublingual therapy before oral immunotherapy had better results. reports, however, that the treatment plan needs to be carefully honed to minimize the chances of triggering serious allergic reactions in children:

The results suggested that children who went through a year of sublingual therapy followed by one to two years of oral immunotherapy were less likely to have significant allergic reactions when undergoing the oral immunotherapy. Still, it did not eliminate all symptoms.

This is particularly important, because about 20% of the kids that [Dr. Robert] Wood [of Johns Hopkins] and colleagues work with have significant reactions during the treatment that make the therapy unfeasible, Wood said.

Some participants have shown they can safely eat milk products up to a year after stopping the therapies, Wood said. But only one-third have longterm protection. Others need regular exposure to milk in order to maintain protection against allergic reactions.

“With milk that’s not too hard,” Wood says, because one could “eat pizza a couple of times a week.”

Image: Boy drinking milk, via Shutterstock.

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  2. by Sharon Sarles

    On March 9, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I have mixed feelings when I read articles like this. For one thing, the idea is hardly new. There have been sublinqual therapies out similar to this for years. In fact, although I don’t understand it, homeopathy works on this principle. For another thing, there is so much not discussed, and a few things intimated that it really spreads alarming misconceptions.

    Wouldn’t most young moms read this, think we have a new therapy, rush off to demand this of their doctor? So is this just more covert than say, ads for the purple pill or clips on the news made by drug companies?

    Wouldn’t it be better to talk about mom level protocols, talk about prevention, and talk about research as research?

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