In a rare medical twofer, a child with leukemia who underwent a bone marrow transplant has emerged free of not only his cancer but his peanut allergy.
The child was diagnosed with the allergy at 15 months, said Steven Weiss, an allergist in Syosset, N.Y. At age 4, the boy developed acute lymphocytic leukemia.
He had received chemotherapy but suffered relapses of his cancer. At age 10, he underwent a bone marrow transplant, an arduous procedure that kills off a patient’s existing bone marrow and the cancerous cells and then replaces them with marrow cells from a healthy donor. The boy’s donor had no known allergy. A year later, the boy’s immune system had recovered and tests revealed no peanut allergy, Weiss said.
Weiss’ collaborator Yong Luo, an allergist in Great Neck, N.Y., said allergies have sometimes transferred from a marrow donor to a patient but have rarely been eradicated this way in a marrow recipient. Food allergies are abnormal immune reactions to a food protein. Weiss and Luo hypothesize that the mechanism underlying this aberrant immunity might dwell in the early stages of immune cell development in the marrow.
Luo will present the findings in Baltimore November 10 at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.