Even the tiniest chip of a peanut can be deadly to someone who is allergic to it. So, how do you explain to a youngster who loves peanut butter, that they can't eat it if they're one of those who is allergic? Parents may not have to worry about that too much longer, because a major study at five medical schools is getting closer to developing a vaccine to protect against peanut allergies.
The scientists have found a way to modify peanut proteins in a vaccine, a major hurdle that took years to perfect. "We've actually taken those allergenic portions out of it, so that's what we'll use for the vaccine it's like a hypoallergenic peanut product," says Dr. Wesley Burks a lead researcher at Duke University School of Medicine.
Dr. Burks says they hope to start testing the peanut allergy vaccine in adults and adolescents in the next six months, and if the therapy proves to be effective, they hope to use the vaccine as a model to develop strategies to treat milk, eggs and other food allergies as well.
There are no test sites in Texas yet. The clinical and observational studies will take place at five clinical sites: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC; University of Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock; National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver.