UCC treatment for peanut allergies hailed as a 'game-changer'

UCC treatment for peanut allergies hailed as a 'game-changer'
Principal Investigator at the INFANT Centre, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at University College Cork, Jonathan Hourihane with a new oral immunotherapy which successfully reduces sensitivity to peanuts, and offers a real lifeline to those affected by the most common food allergy and the single cause of most food allergy deaths. Pic: Diane Cusack

A GROUNDBREAKING treatment which allows highly allergic children to eat peanuts has been hailed as “a game-changer”.

The world’s largest peanut allergy treatment trial, involving more than 30 Irish children, has found that a new oral treatment can successfully reduce sensitivity to peanuts, and offers a real lifeline to those affected by the most common food allergy and the single cause of most food allergy deaths.

Through his work as Principal Investigator at the INFANT Centre, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at University College Cork, Jonathan Hourihane, has been leading the revolutionary immunotherapy trial in Ireland, which has shown that more than two-thirds of those on the treatment could tolerate peanuts after the trial. 

This tolerance gives peanut allergy sufferers real safety, and the ability to cope with accidental exposure in the community.

“Up to now, without any treatment available, peanut allergy has put children and adults at risk of unpredictable and occasionally life-threatening reactions," he said.

"The AR101 immunotherapy is a real breakthrough for those affected by peanut allergy. It works by introducing initially minute controlled amounts of peanut protein, with escalation over a sustained period of 6 to 12 months, building up a patient’s tolerance to peanut. 

"We have seen patients go from being highly allergic to very small doses, like one-tenth of a peanut, to being able to manage to eat the equivalent of 2 or 3 peanuts without a significant reaction. This is a game changer for anyone living with this allergy,” said Professor Hourihane of the INFANT Centre.

This industry-sponsored research and clinical trial has resulted in the publication of Prof. Hourihane’s co-authored paper in the world’s leading medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine this week.

INFANT Director Geraldine Boylan said, “This is an example of the excellent, world-leading clinical research ongoing at the INFANT centre at UCC, which is making a huge difference to lives of children and their families, not just in Ireland but all over the world. 

"We are delighted to be a significant player in bringing this new therapy to fruition and acknowledge the incredible work of our INFANT allergy research team, and particularly the incredible work of our colleague, Prof. Jonathan Hourihane.” 

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