At the program's conclusion, a "food challenge" was conducted. The challenge revealed that while the placebo group could only safely tolerate 315 milligrams of peanut consumption, the 15 children who participated in the immunotherapy program could tolerate up to 5,000 milligrams of peanuts -- an amount equal to about 15 peanuts.
Having concluded that the dosage program afforded some measure of short-term "clinical desensitization" to peanuts, the research team then explored the program's potential for inducing long-term protection in a second trial.
Eight of the children who had participated in the oral dosing program for anywhere between 32 and 61 months were then subject to an oral peanut challenge four weeks after being taken off the dosing program.
All of the children -- at an average age of about four and a half years of age -- demonstrated lasting immunological changes that translated into a newly developed "clinical tolerance" to peanuts, the researchers said. And although the children continue to be tracked for complications, peanuts are now a part of their standard diets.
Yet despite the encouraging developments, Perry voiced caution about the findings.
"While the studies are very positive, it's still a research process that's going to take a lot of further study to allow us to tell which patients will be good candidates for this kind of therapy, as not all patients will be in terms of safety," she observed. "So consumers should realize that this is still a developing science and something that should only be done under strict supervision."
Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in New York City, seconded that advice.
"I'm involved in this kind of research myself," he noted, "and it is very promising. But
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