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'Life-changing' Aussie cure for peanut allergies step closer to release

Staff Writer | February 1, 2017
A cure for peanut allergies is a step closer after Australian researchers received a substantial grant to make their vaccine commercially available.
Cure   Peanut allergies are a massive problem
Researchers from Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) have received $6 million and are in negotiations to receive a further $5.3 million to take to market their world-first treatment for the most common cause of violent anaphylactic reactions.

"Peanut allergies are a massive problem and this is an innovative approach. There's a clear path to a marketable product here that could have tremendous impact globally," Paul Kelly, managing director of OneVentures which invested the 6 million, told News Limited on Thursday.

"It's a potential cure. We'll put a very commercial focus on the work to make it a (United States) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved product in due course, and then a marketed pharmaceutical product around the world."

An anaphylactic reaction can be triggered by any antigen, most commonly bee stings and various foods, and can be lethal.

The treatment involves administering small amounts of peanut flour to children with peanut allergies, building up to two grams or the equivalent of six peanuts, along with daily doses of probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

Following 18 months of the treatment, up to 82 percent of children in trials showed an improved tolerance to peanuts five weeks after finishing the treatment.

"The treatment was very effective, just over 80 percent of children who received the probiotic peanut therapy tolerate peanuts, compared with 4 percent of children who received a placebo," Mimi Tang, the lead researcher, said in 2015.

"These findings provide the vital first step towards developing a cure for peanut allergy and possibly for all food allergies.

"It will change the lives completely for children and adults who have peanut allergies."

Experts dubbed Australia the "food allergy capital of the world" in August, on account of 20 percent of Australians having at least one allergy, mostly due to a lack of vitamin D and not being introduced to different food groups early enough.