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  Amazing if this holds up in larger studies - a treatment for peanut allergy! As the researchers said -  the treatment (2 grams of peanut protein plus a specific strain of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus daily for 18 months) provided "persistent suppression of the allergic immune response to peanuts 4 years" after the treatment had ended This was a nicely done multi-year study in children - a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (to eliminate biases).

The researchers also wrote in the Discussion section of the study: "PPOIT [combined probiotic and peanut oral immunotherapy] was associated with long-lasting peanut tolerance 4 years after stopping treatment. Two-thirds of PPOIT treated participants were able to continue regular peanut ingestion, and more than half were ingesting moderate to-large amounts of peanut on a regular basis, compared with only one (4%) of 24 placebo-treated participants. Allergic reactions from intentional peanut ingestion were uncommon and all reactions were mild, suggesting that those who achieved PPOIT-induced sustained unresponsiveness can safely continue peanut ingestion." In other words - WOW! (Other posts on peanut allergies - here and here, and earlier progress report of this study.) From Medical Xpress:

Australian researchers in peanut allergy breakthrough

Australian researchers have reported a major breakthrough in the relief of deadly peanut allergy with the discovery of a long-lasting treatment they say offers hope that a cure will soon be possible. In clinical trials conducted by scientists at Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, children with peanut allergies were given a probiotic along with small doses of a peanut protein over an 18-month period. When the experiment ended in 2013 some 80 percent of the kids were able to tolerate peanutsThe research, published Wednesday in medical journal The Lancet, found that four years on, about 70 percent could still eat peanuts without an adverse reaction.

"The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanuts like children who don't have peanut allergy and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanut," lead researcher Mimi Tang said. "These findings suggest our treatment is effective at inducing long-term tolerance, up to four years after completing treatment, and is safe. Food allergy affects one in 20 children and about two in 100 adults, with seafood, cow's milk, eggs and peanuts among the most typical triggers. Peanuts are one of the most common foods to cause anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction.

The researchers said the Murdoch study provides the "strongest evidence yet that a cure may be possible for peanut allergy"..... Ten-year-old Olivia May suffered a reaction when she tried to eat a peanut butter sandwich seven years ago. "We visited the allergist the first time [and] he said 'sorry, you're going to have to go home and empty your pantry out, clear it of all nuts, anything with nuts in it'," Oliver's mother Tanya told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. But after taking part in the trial, Oliva no longer suffers from her allergy.

Fifty-six children completed the study, with half receiving a placebo and half receiving the treatment, which encourages the immune system to develop a tolerance to the allergy. Researchers are now aiming to confirm the results with a larger study of the treatment they say "holds important implications for attacking the modern food allergy epidemic". [Original study.]

Very exciting research. And it's the exact opposite advice that doctors used to tell parents - which was if there was a high risk for a specific allergy that ran in the family (peanuts, dogs, etc.) to have the young child try to avoid exposure to that item (or in the case of peanuts - until the age of 3). From NPR:

Feeding Babies Foods With Peanuts Appears To Prevent Allergies

Babies at high risk for becoming allergic to peanuts are much less likely to develop the allergy if they are regularly fed foods containing the legumes starting in their first year of life. That's according to a big new study released Monday involving hundreds of British babies. The researchers found that those who consumed the equivalent of about 4 heaping teaspoons of peanut butter each week, starting when they were between 4 and 11 months old, were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by their fifth birthday.

"This is certainly good news," says Gideon Lack of King's College London, who led the study. He presented the research at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. It was also published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

As many as 2 million U.S. children are estimated to be allergic to peanuts — an allergy that has been increasing rapidly in the United States, Britain and other countries in recent years. While most children who are allergic to peanuts only experience relatively mild symptoms, such as hives, some have life-threatening reactions that can include trouble breathing and heart problems.

Lack's study was launched after he noticed that Israeli kids are much less likely to have peanut allergies than are Jewish kids in Britain and the United States."My Israeli colleagues and friends and young parents were telling me, 'Look, we give peanuts to these children very early. Not whole peanuts, but peanut snacks,' " Lack says. Peanut snacks called Bamba, which are made of peanut butter and corn, are wildly popular in Israel, where parents give them to their kids when they're very young. That's very different from what parents do in Britain and the United States, where fears about food allergies have prompted many parents to keep their children away from peanuts, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics revised a recommendation to do so in 2008.

"That raised the question whether early exposure would prevent these allergies" by training babies' immune systems not to overreact to peanuts, Lack says. "It's really a very fundamental change in the way we're approaching these children." To try to find out, Lack and his colleagues got funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to launch a study. They found 640 babies who were at high risk for developing peanut allergies because they already had eczema or egg allergy. They asked half of the infants' parents to start feeding them Bamba, peanut butter, peanut soup or peanut in some other form before their first birthday and followed them for about five years.

"What we found was a very great reduction in the rate of peanut allergy," Lack says. About 17 percent of the kids who avoided peanuts developed peanut allergies, compared with only 3.2 percent of the kids who ate peanuts, the researchers reported.

Based on the findings, Lack thinks most parents should start feeding their babies peanut products as early as possible — not whole peanuts or globs of peanut butter, but peanut mixed in some other food to avoid any possible choking hazard."We've moved, really, 180 degrees from complete avoidance to we should give peanuts to young children actively," Lack says. Other allergy experts hailed the results as an important advance. "This is a major study — really what we would call a landmark study," says Scott Sicherer, who advises the American Academy of Pediatrics on allergies.