Good news for peanut allergy sufferers

Nov. 10, 2023
Scientists develop new toothpaste that shows potential to prevent severe allergic reactions in adults with peanut allergies

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about food. These days, my husband and I host my parents at our townhouse in Florida, which makes for a small, intimate affair. Yet, I remember when I was growing up, we’d all head to my aunt’s house where my grandparents and my father’s six siblings (yes, six) gathered with their spouses and children—my cousins. It was always a really wonderful, albeit crowded, time.

One of my cousins has a peanut allergy. I remember when an aunt or an uncle would bring some treats from their local market, my cousin’s mother was adamant about checking the ingredient list. When my cousin got older, she became adamant.

And I’m sure many of you know that peanuts are in lots of things and lots of things are manufactured at facilities that share equipment that processes peanuts or nuts. That’s a lot of being diligent for someone with a peanut allergy, the good news is that scientists have developed a new toothpaste that shows potential to prevent severe allergic reactions in adults with peanut allergies.

According to a press release, a new abstract being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. Nov. 9-13 shows that a specially formulated toothpaste can be successfully used for Oral Mucosal Immunotherapy (OMIT). Oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy—introducing small amounts of peanut over a period to cause less of a reaction to the individual if the person eats something with peanut—has been used by allergists for many years to assist in desensitizing those with peanut allergy.

Allergist William Berger, MD, ACAAI member and author of the study was quoted in the press release. He says, “OMIT uses a specially formulated toothpaste to deliver allergenic peanut proteins to areas of the oral cavity. OMIT as a delivery mechanism for peanut protein has great potential for food allergy desensitization. Due to its targeted delivery and simple administration, it supports the goal of improved adherence.”

The press release states that “This study enrolled 32 adults, age 18-55, with peanut allergy in a 3:1 ratio of active treatment to placebo control. Participants received either an escalating dose of peanut toothpaste or placebo. During this 48-week trial, safety was monitored during the up-dosing and maintenance phases. Exploratory biomarkers were also evaluated, and oral food challenges were conducted. (Exploratory biomarkers are blood tests used to show if a person’s immune system is responding to treatment with an allergen such as peanut.)”

Berger adds “We noted that 100% of those being treated with the toothpaste consistently tolerated the pre-specified protocol highest dose. No moderate nor severe systemic reactions occurred in active participants. Non-systemic adverse reactions were mostly local (oral itching), mild, and transient. There was 97% adherence to treatment with no dropouts due to study medication. OMIT appears to be a safe and convenient option for adults with food allergies. The results support continued development of this toothpaste in the pediatric population.”

The press release says that there are additional long-term studies planned for use of the toothpaste therapy.

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