Food allergies are becoming a more and more common issue each year, as new studies estimate that 6% of children suffer from some kind of food allergy, though some believe that number to be higher.
The most common (and often the most violent) reactions come from allergies to peanuts. People with a peanut allergy often experience hive breakouts, trouble breathing, and even can go into anaphylatic shock, which can be fatal.
A research team at the University of Michigan has just published a study explaining work they've done to create and then cure peanut allergies in mice using vaccines.
After sensitizing mice to peanuts in order to simulate reactions similar to those in humans with food allergies, the team administered one nasal vaccine every month for 3 months, then observed the results. They found that the vaccine successfully protected the mice from the effects of their peanut allergy, and also showed decreased activity in the immune cells that mistakenly react to peanuts.
The research team hasn't administered any tests on human subjects, and there's no definitive answer about how long the effects of the vaccine last, but their ultimate goal is to use immunotherapy to change how the body reacts to certain foods and hopefully make life a little easier for those affected by allergies.
As a parent of a toddler with a peanut allergy, I HOPE this ends up working on people!! We found out my 19-month old had a peanut allergy when he was about 9 months old. He broke out in hives shortly after he ate some peanut butter. Thankfully no anaphylaxis, but nonetheless a scary trip to the emergency room, which we followed up with a bevy of allergy tests. We carry an EpiPen (which is insanely expensive) and have to watch for foods that might even be processed in a factory with peanuts, which makes grocery shopping an adventure. Not to mention the strain that it puts on birthday parties and play dates - making sure there's no chance of him accidentally eating something with peanuts in/on it. And these kinds of issues will only become more prevalent as he gets older and goes to Pre-K, elementary school, summer camps, and sleepovers.
So, a vaccine that cures a peanut allergy? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. For my son's health and my wife and I's peace of mind, this would be an awesome advancement.