Recent research has found that sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is effective for treating peanut allergy. The people involved in SLIT trials can tolerate 10 – 20 times more peanut protein than needed by a person to get sick. In this way, it can provide a strong safety signal. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has published these results.
SLIT can desensitize the immune system against large amounts of peanut protein
SLIT is a new and safe way for treating peanut allergy in a person. This method includes placing a tiny bit amount of peanut protein (liquified) under the tongue. From here, the protein can enter the blood. And reduce the sensitivity of the immune system to larger quantities of peanut protein.
The scientists have found three main ways to treat nut allergies. All these methods work in the same manner. They desensitize a person’s immune system against nut proteins. And can help patients to avoid severe allergic reactions in response to nuts.
Enabling the kids to eat jelly sandwiches or peanut butter is not the idea behind these therapies. But the main purpose is to keep kids safe from hidden exposures. That may occur due to packaged foods or foods at restaurants.
The research team has found that nearly 100 mg of peanut protein is enough to cause a severe allergic reaction. This trace amount may be present in foods produced by a facility that processes nuts. One approach for immune therapy involves placing a patch on the skin.
That will release a small amount of peanut protein through the skin into the blood. Where it will desensitize the immune system. This method is safe for treating peanut allergy. And isn’t as effective as hoped by researchers. But still, it can become a therapy approved by the FDA.
SLIT is much safer than oral immunotherapy due to fewer side effects
A second method is OIT – oral immunotherapy. In OIT, patients take a small amount of peanut protein per day. And over time, it can desensitize a person’s immune system. In an OIT clinical trial, the patients took 0.5 mg of peanut.
And increased this quantity to 300 mg over many weeks. Later, the patients maintained this 300 mg intake per day for the rest of the year. The trial showed that OIT was effective for treating peanut allergy. But serious side effects were also present in some patients.
SLIT is another approach to avoid severe allergy. As it doesn’t include the digestion process, patients receive quite less amount of peanut protein – that is 0.0002 mg initially. In months, this amount increases to 2 mg.
The research team has performed a study on 18 patients to show the efficiency and safety of SLIT over one year. Later, the team has followed 48 patients. That has taken 2 mg of liquified peanut protein per day for five years.
67% of these patients tolerated at least 750 mg of this protein without any side effects. While about 25% were able to tolerate 5000 mg. Even though the SLIT study was smaller, the data has shown that SLIT is as effective as OIT. But SLIT poses much less risk of side effects than OIT.
The most common of these side effects was itching around the mouth. That lasted nearly 15 minutes and didn’t need any treatment. There is no perfect drug for treating food allergy. And it needs shared decisions among patients, parents, and physicians to find the best therapy for each patient.