This is a major breakthrough for those who suffer from serious peanut allergies – about 1.5 million people in the U.S. alone. Deciding not to eat peanuts is inconvenient, but it is the unintentional, unexpected exposure that is the haunting danger. The exposure threshold can be very low. Because of the aggressive antibodies that these people have already made against peanuts, even a trace of peanuts can trigger an immediate anaphylactic reaction.
The March 13, 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine describes a careful test of TNX-901, an exciting new drug that consists of antibodies against the antibodies against the peanuts. In this study, some of the people received TNX-901 once a month for 4 months. Others received a placebo. A month later, everyone was carefully challenged with peanuts. At on dose tested, the medicine increased the average threshold for a reaction from only half a peanut to about 9 peanuts – which should be enough to protect against many accidental exposures.
I hope the remaining practical obstacles will be overcome quickly to make this available to families with peanut allergies.
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