A cure for peanut allergy

Published: Tuesday 31 August 1999

Peanut snacks can prove to be fatal for those who are unfortunate enough to be allergic to them. An estimated 100 people die every year in the US due to anaphylactic shock (acute allergic reaction) after accidental exposure to peanuts. It appears that occurrence of peanut allergy is rising particularly in children, forcing US lawmakers to mandate peanut-free zones in schools and aeroplanes. A new approach to tackle such anaphylactic shock has been outlined in a recently published paper. This work may in fact help not just such patients but victims of some other types of ailments such as asthma and hay fever. K Roy and his team from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have devised a simple oral DNA vaccine to induce tolerance to peanut allergen. Vaccinated mice, when challenged with the allergen, showed a delayed and much milder anaphylactic reaction. If the results pass tests, passengers allergic to peanuts need not fear flying any more ( Nature Medicine , Vol 5, No 4).

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