August 29, 2014
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Texas Children's Hospital begins peanut immunotherapy study

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Researchers at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine have begun a peanut immunotherapy trial to investigate the ability of peanut allergic children to take peanut flour.

The researchers began enrolling children with peanut allergies in the trial in August, and will investigate “the mechanism by which the body develops tolerance and measure the effect of viral infections,” according to a press release. Desensitization will be used. Discovering a standard of care that could lower the risk for severe allergic reactions in patients and eventually cease the allergy are study goals.

Carla Davis, MD

Carla Davis

“No other immunotherapy trial has used the state of the art laboratory testing of immune cells to improve the process of desensitization that Texas Children’s has,” Carla Davis, MD, director of the food allergy program, Texas Children’s Hospital, and assistant professor of pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, said in the release. “We believe the information gained from this trial will help make the process of desensitization faster and more efficient in the future.”

The researchers will evaluate more than 25 lymphocyte markers that are central to controlling immune responses, the release said. Blood will be drawn from patients, with the markers evaluated by flow cytometry. The researchers will monitor how immunotherapy works to accurately identify good candidates for immunotherapy.

“Our study evaluates clinical measures, but in conjunction with lymphocyte markers that will give us a better way to treat and potentially cure food allergy,” Davis said.

According to recent data from Food Allergy Research and Education, one in 13 US children has a food allergy, the release stated.

“We chose this food (peanuts) to make the largest difference in safety for our patients,” Davis said.