A recent study showed that sublingual immunotherapy (or SLIT) treatments for peanut allergy appears to be effective. The randomized controlled trial showed that the treatment induced a moderate level of desensitization with minimal adverse effects when compared with a placebo treatment.
The study’s lead author, David M. Fleischer, MD, of National Jewish Health in Denver, wrote “This is the first multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of peanut SLIT. The study achieved its primary efficacy end point, demonstrating that treatment with peanut SLIT induces a statistically significant degree of desensitization in a majority of subjects compared with placebo.”
The study involved 40 participants between the ages of 12 and 37. Half received a placebo treatment, while the other half received peanut SLIT. The treatment involves progressively larger quantities of peanuts ingested orally, with the goal of helping the immune system learn not to overreact to the protein. After 44 weeks, the results of the treatment were compared with the peanut tolerance of the placebo-treated participants.
70% of the participants receiving peanut immunotherapy showed a positive response after 44 weeks, compared with 15% of those receiving the placebo. Participants receiving peanut SLIT were able to consume an average of 3.5mg of peanut powder at the start of the study, which increased to 496mg after 44 weeks of treatment, and 996mg after 68 weeks of treatment.
A total of 11,854 doses of immunotherapy were administered during the study. Approximately 1.1% of these required treatment for adverse effects. The majority of these were mild, and treated with oral antihistamines. One patient required albuterol, and one required epinephrine.
Dr. Rohit Katial, program director of Allergy & Immunology at National Jewish Health in Denver, commented “These are not unexpected findings, but new, since traditional immunotherapy is not done orally but rather subcutaneously and does not include food allergens…Further work is necessary… A nice first step in moving towards a treatment option for those with food allergy, since currently the only option is avoiding the food one is allergic to.”
Results of the study were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology’s January 2013 issue.