Editorials

Oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2938 (Published 03 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2938
  1. Aziz Sheikh, professor of primary care research and development,
  2. Iris Venderbosch, Socrates research student,
  3. Ulugbek Nurmatov, clinical research fellow
  1. 1Allergy and Respiratory Research Group, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9AG
  1. aziz.sheikh{at}ed.ac.uk

    A potentially important advance, but long term effectiveness and safety need to be established

    Preliminary findings from studies investigating the effectiveness of oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy are encouraging and suggest that a possible cure for peanut allergy may be within sight. Although the excitement about this new treatment approach is understandable, we are still some distance from reliably establishing its effectiveness, cost effectiveness, and safety, all of which are prerequisites for its use in routine clinical practice.

    Peanut allergy affects up to one in 200 people in economically developed countries, and unlike many other types of food allergy is usually lifelong.1 It often causes considerable psychological distress, to both those affected and their carers.2 It may also have ramifications for other people, such as fellow pupils at school,3 because accidental exposure to even very small amounts of peanut can be enough to trigger anaphylaxis, which may prove fatal.4

    Until recently the only treatment for peanut allergy was meticulous avoidance of peanuts and preparedness to treat a reaction promptly with …

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