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Tough Nut Is Cracked: Antibody treatment stifles peanut reactions

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8:52am, March 12, 2003

Researchers have successfully demonstrated the first preventive treatment against peanut allergy. The drug, which raises the threshold at which allergic people react to peanuts, could reach the market in 2 to 3 years, the scientists say.

In some ways, a peanut allergy is the worst kind, says Hugh A. Sampson of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Peanuts and peanut oil crop up in unlikely foods, such as egg rolls and chili, and can trigger severe reactions. Roughly 50 to 100 deaths every year in the United States can be traced to peanut allergies, Sampson says. What's more, while many children outgrow allergies to other foods, he says, "most people don't outgrow a peanut allergy."

Sampson and his colleagues enrolled 84 people who had a peanut allergy. The scientists gave the participants, ages 12 to 60, four injections over 4 months.

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