New drug shows promise of protecting people with peanut allergies

A new experimental drug allowed children and adolescents to consume small amounts of peanuts without suffering a serious reaction during a recent study, a California-based pharmaceutical company announced Sunday.

"[A peanut allergy] demands lifelong vigilance to avoid accidental exposures, and the unpredictable severity of reactions that do occur can take a toll on children and families," wrote A. Wesley Burks, a member of the drug company's Scientific Advisory Board and author of the study, in the company's announcement.

"By significantly reducing the frequency and severity of allergic reactions to peanut, AR101 could provide reassurance and make a meaningful, beneficial impact on people’s daily lives.”

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The drug, produced by Aimmune Therapeutics, contains peanut protein. It could help protect people who are allergic to the legume from the sometimes deadly repercussions of accidentally consuming peanut protein.

The product has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but could ultimately help a growing part of the U.S. population.

The Wall Street Journal reports that peanut allergies shot up by 21 percent among children in the U.S. over the last eight years.

At this point, nearly 2.5 percent of American children may have peanut allergies.

The oral immunotherapy drug Aimmune is developing could ease the minds of many parents around the U.S. 

The study had nearly 500 child participants, aged 4 to 17, who had peanut allergies. 

The study found that 67.2 percent of the children taking the drug, AR1010, were able to consume a dose of at least 600 milligrams of peanut protein without experiencing anything beyond mild symptoms.

Only 4 percent of the children in the placebo group experienced the same.