Summer 2018 Food Allergy Research Roundup


The first part of 2018 has been a busy time for food allergy researchers. The latest studies show that there are promising treatments for peanut allergies being tested, that teens struggling with eczema may get relief, that women may be able to use supplements to reduce allergy risk in their children, and that having a food allergy can impact a child’s growth and development.

Clinical Trial Data Show Efficacy for Peanut Allergy Therapy

Aimmune Therapeutics recently released information from its latest clinical trial of AR101, an oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy. The trial included 554 people between the ages of four and 55, but 90 percent were between four and 17. The participants were treated for a year and then tested for reactivity to peanut protein.

The results show that 85 percent of children, 83 percent of teenagers and 85 percent of adult in the study tolerated 600 milligrams or more of peanut protein. In the placebo group, only about four percent of people were able to tolerate the dose. Aimmune’s next step is to apply for approval of the treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

New Treatment May Help Teens with Eczema

Another clinical trial is showing promise for adolescents with atopic dermatitis (eczema) that is not controlled by another treatment. The phase 3 trial showed that the medication Dupixent (dupilumab) reduces itching and helps clear skin in young people with moderate to severe rashes. The drug is made by Sanofi. Adverse events were similar to the placebo group, but some differences were injection site reactions and conjunctivitis. Use of Dupixent to treat asthma is currently under review.

Nasal Vaccine May Suppress Peanut Allergy

A recent study of a nasal mist vaccine was found to prevent or significantly limit peanut allergy in laboratory mice. The vaccine, which is being tested at the University of Michigan, is a type of immunotherapy that changes how immune cells respond to peanut protein. It seems to suppress the harmful response of the immune system to the allergen.

The mice in the study were dosed with the vaccine just three times, once a month. Another group was given a placebo. After the treatments, both groups were exposed to peanut protein. Those that received the treatment were protected and did not have allergic reactions. Future studies will determine how long the effect lasts, and how it works in more detail, with the goal of eventually having human trials.

Children with Milk Allergy Shorter Than Peers

A new study shows just how much a food allergy can affect individuals. The study found that children with persistent allergies to milk were shorter in height than children with peanut or tree nut allergies. Having a food allergy limits what a child can eat, and the research indicates that being limited by a milk allergy may cause more nutritional deficits than other allergens.

The study also found that milk-allergic children had lower weights than their peers. The researchers hope to continue studies that will determine if these children can close the gap and catch up to their peers in height or weight. The research comes from the Children’s National Health System and was reported at a conference of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Supplements Taken During Pregnancy May Reduce Allergy Risks

A large review of over 400 studies was recently published and shed new light on how specific supplements used by pregnant women may confer protection on their children. The review comes from the Imperial College London and analyzed data from over 1.5 million people. The researchers found that when women took fish oil capsules daily, beginning at 20 weeks of pregnancy and continuing a few months into breastfeeding, the risk that the child would be allergic to eggs was significantly reduced.

The study also found that in women who took a probiotic supplement late in pregnancy and up to six months into breastfeeding had children with a reduced risk of eczema. Significantly, the study also found no evidence that women who avoided potentially allergic foods like nuts or eggs would confer any protection on their children.