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April 26, 2019

That super-promising peanut allergy treatment has flaws, further research finds

But that doesn't mean it isn't effective

Prevention Allergies
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AR101 is a peanut-based immunotherapy that is being developed to treat peanut allergies.

New scientific discoveries can be so exciting — especially when they have the promise to help a lot of people live better, healthier or safer lives.

That’s exactly how the world felt when it was announced in November that a potentially highly effective peanut allergy treatment, AR101, was soon to apply for FDA approval. The “special sauce” of this treatment was that it actually contained small amounts of peanuts, so it actually gave patients a dose of their allergic trigger in order to treat their allergy. 

While this sounds like a dangerous treatment method, the researchers behind the treatment found it to be quite effective.

RELATED READ: A very effective peanut allergy treatment is slated to hit the market in 2019

But a subsequent analysis of the treatment published in the journal Lancet on Thursday found the previous findings didn’t actually convert to longstanding peanut allergy protection, TIME reports. The recent analysis, which looked at 12 trials including information on 1,000 patients, concluded oral immunotherapy treatment increase the risk of anaphylaxis, an acute and potentially fatal allergic reaction, by 22 percent. Those who hadn’t received the treatment only had a seven percent risk, according to TIME. 

While that increased risk is rather jarring — it represents about threefold chance of anaphylaxis — researchers note they’re not claiming the treatment is entirely ineffective, IFL Science explained. It has been proven to work in clinical studies, but researchers want to point out the “gap between results in a clinical setting and real-life applications,” IFL Science adds. 

Dr. Derek Chu, an internal medicine physician and clinical immunology and allergy fellow at McMaster University in Canada and lead author of the study, told TIME:

“This is really the first big crack at trying to treat peanut allergy, which is a fundamental milestone, and we should celebrate that,” he says. “But like anything else in medicine or technology or life, the first time you do something, it’s not necessarily going to be perfect.”

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