Vaccine could stop peanut allergies

December 12, 2019 BY

Peanut allergies could become a thing of the past as breakthrough research from the University of South Australia develops a radically novel vaccination that’s poised to cure the potentially life threatening condition.

The vaccine uniquely uses a virus-based platform to rewrite the body’s natural response to peanut allergens, causing it to elicit a non-allergic immune response in lieu of an allergic one.

Developed in partnership with Biotechnology company, Sementis and UniSA’s Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory, the vaccine has the potential to help millions of people.

Now, funding from the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation will help evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine in humans.

Peanut allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies peanuts as an allergen, signalling immune cells to release chemicals resulting in adverse reactions that can range from mild hives, cramps, nausea and vomiting to life threatening anaphylactic reactions that require immediate medical attention. Severe allergic reactions can include impaired breathing, swelling in the throat, a sudden drop in blood pressure, dizziness, and even death.

Globally, the incidence of food allergies and related life-threatening anaphylaxis is increasing, with the World Allergy Organization reporting 220-550 million people are affected.

Peanuts are one of the most common food allergies and the most likely food to cause anaphylaxis or death. In Australia, there is particularly high prevalence of peanut allergies with one in 200 adults, and almost three in every 100 children affected.

Project lead Dr Preethi Eldi said the new peanut allergy vaccine had great potential to change lives.

“The impact peanut allergy can have on a family is all-consuming, especially given the very real risks to a child’s heath.

“Parents are constantly protecting their child from being exposed to peanuts in all forms – from popular breakfast cereals and school snacks, to biscuits, cakes and even health foods – whether at home, school, or in social situations. And, it means being vigilant and imposing very stringent dietary restrictions, not only for the child, but often, also for family members.

“If we can deliver an effective peanut allergy vaccine, we’ll remove this stress, concern, and constant monitoring, freeing the child and their family from the constraints and dangers of peanut allergy.”