A drug to treat peanut allergies in children has been approved in the US

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 4:02 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 4:09 pm

AR101 may read like a registration plate, but in America it will be sold under the name Parlforzia and used to finally treat peanut allergies.

According to AllergyUK.com one in 50 children in the UK has a peanut allergy, and although Parlforzia is not yet approved by the UK Government it may be the first step in providing a treatment.

Like all allergies, peanut allergies can range from mild to extremely severe causing anaphylaxis, difficulty breathing, swelling, vomiting, dizziness, and sometimes even death.

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This has pushed certain airliners to remove peanuts from planes and in recent years prompted campaigners to push for an allergy death register to evaluate the impact of allergies.

In 2017, 18-year old Owen Carey died after consuming dairy in a grilled chicken burger at a Byron Burger restaurant. The year before 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died after eating sesame seeds in a Pret a Manger baguette.

How the drug works

Not much is known about why peanuts are such a powerful allergen, but for children with a severe reaction to peanuts, Palforzia desensitises them to peanut proteins, which is usually the main source of the allergy.

A medical trial published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 67 per cent of the children taking Palforzia during the study could consume the equivalent of two peanuts, compared to four per cent who took the placebo.

Peter Marks, the director of the FDA's Centre for Biologics Evaluation and Research said: "When used in conjunction with peanut avoidance, Palforzia provides an FDA-approved treatment option to help reduce the risk of these allergic reactions in children with peanut allergy."

However, nearly all participants who undertook the study had adverse reactions to the pill, leading to one out of 10 children to drop out of the trial.

Palforzia is made from a type of peanut flour, which may activate the allergy that doctors are hoping to treat.

Palforzia will cost roughly $860 per month in the US but is not yet available in the UK.