Peanut allergies are the second most common food allergy in children, plaguing about 5.6 million Americans under the age of 18. Studies show that the rate of allergies are increasing, possibly due to higher standards of cleanliness in households, therefore, less exposure to pathogens and impurities at a young age.
A pharmaceutical agent, Etokimab, designed to target eczema failed in a clinical trial. Scientists at Stanford University were fascinated by the drug’s ability to decrease inflammation, more specifically, to reduce levels of IL-33. In the case of a peanut allergy, the body’s immune system is hyper-stimulated resulting in an increase of IL-33 release, which in turn, activates Immunoglobulin E (IgE), the notorious allergy antibody. Too much stimulation could result in a potentially fatal condition; anaphylactic shock. In a clinical trial, 11 out of 15 patients with severe peanut allergies given this drug were able to tolerate 275mg of peanut protein after two weeks of administration.
This mechanism is common to almost all allergies, giving this new drug the potential to combat more than just peanut allergies. If this drug is successful, patients suffering severe allergies will be able to eat safely and stress free.