A NEW treatment could prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts, experts have revealed.
Daily exposure to tiny traces of peanut powder can help kids build up a tolerance, a year-long study found.
Millions of kids across the world are allergic to peanuts, with even the tiniest traces triggering life-threatening reactions for some.
Now, Aimmune Therapeutics in California, hope their new treatment will be approved to use in the US later this year, and in Europe next year.
But, doctors have warned the therapy is not safe to try at home.
Experiments showed 67 per cent of kids who had the experimental capsule therapy were able to tolerate the equivalent of two peanuts, by the end of the study.
That was compared to just four per cent given a placebo powder.
Dr Stacie Jones, an allergy specialist at the University of Arkansas, who helped lead the study, warned: "It's potentially dangerous. This is investigational."
She added the tests had to be performed in a "very safe setting", in case a child did suffer a severe reaction and needed immediate emergency treatment.
Dr Jones and her team recruited nearly 500 children to take part – all aged four to 17 with allergies so severe they had reactions to as little as a tenth of a peanut.
They were divided into two groups.
One was given capsules of peanut powder – increasing in amount over six months before continuing on a final level for a further six months.
The others were given a dummy or placebo powder.
Dr Stacy Dorris of Vanderbilt University, who played no role in the experiments, hailed the preliminary results "exciting".
"This is a way to potentially protect people who are allergic from having a severe or even fatal reaction," she said.
"But it's not a cure. We don't know what would happen if they stop or discontinue treatment."
This is a way to potentially protect people who are allergic from having a severe or even fatal reaction
The new therapy doesn't mean allergic kids could enjoy peanuts like those with no allergy, Dr Andrew Bird, an allergy specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who helped with the study added.
But past studies have shown being able to tolerate at least one peanut should protect 95 per cent of sufferers from having a reaction if they're exposed to peanuts.
That would be a relief to Cathy Heald, a Dallas mum whose ten-year-old son, Charlie, took part in the study.
“We had to teach him that he has to ask about everything he eats from a very early age,” she said.
“He’s described it as living in a cage, watching other people get to eat what they want.”
Charlie was assigned to the group given fake peanut powder but has been able to get the real thing since the study ended, she said.
Aimmune plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment later this year and in Europe early next year.
The company’s chief executive has said he expects the first six months of treatment to cost $5,000 (£3,578) to $10,000 (£7,157), and $300 (£214) to $400 (£286) a month after that.
The medical thinking about peanut allergies has changed in recent years.
Experts now believe early exposure helps prevent young infants developing an allergy in the first place.
The NHS advises parents avoid giving babies and infants peanut-based foods, including peanut butter and peanut oil, before the age of six months.
Whole peanuts are not advised for older kids, because they pose a choking risk.
But, last year scientists said exposing babies to peanuts from four months old, could prevent allergies as they grow up.
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