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Cork research leads to ‘game changer’ treatment

Monday, 19th November, 2018 10:09am

A Cork-based professor has headed up a new trial which has found a treatment for children who are highly allergic to peanuts. 
Through his work as Principal Investigator at the INFANT Centre, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at UCC, Jonathan Hourihane has been leading what’s been described as a “revolutionary immunotherapy trial in Ireland”.
It found that 67 per cent of those on the new oral treatment could tolerate peanuts after the trial. 
The trial saw patients go from being highly allergic to very small doses, like one tenth of a peanut, to being able to manage to eat the equivalent of two or three peanuts without a significant reaction. 
Prof Hourihane said: “This is a game changer for anyone living with this allergy.”
The study has been hailed as the world’s largest peanut allergy treatment trial, involving more than 30 Irish children.
Prof Hourihane continued: “Up to now, without any treatment available, peanut allergy has put children and adults at risk of unpredictable and occasionally life-threatening reactions. 
“The AR101 immunotherapy is a real breakthrough for those affected by peanut allergy.  It works by introducing initially minute controlled amounts of peanut protein, with escalation over a sustained period of six to 12 months, building up a patient’s tolerance to peanut.”
This industry-sponsored research and clinical trial has resulted in the publication of Prof Hourihane’s co-authored paper in the world’s leading medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine, this week.
The AR101 trial has been ongoing around the world for almost two years in total. The double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge saw participants go from allergic reactions, such as immediate vomiting, swelling of the throat, blisters on tongue, stomach pain and other signs of hypersensitivity, after exposure to one milligram (mg) of peanut protein, to being able to safely injest up to 600mg of peanut protein. 
The AR101 treatment has been developed for daily dosing so that patients continue to take the oral immunotherapy on an ongoing basis to remain desensitised to peanuts. 
The AR101 immunotherapy will be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a Biologics Liencse Application by the end of 2018, and is expected to be fast-tracked on the FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for peanut allergic patients from ages four to 17 years. 
Assuming FDA approval, and subsequent approval by the European Medicines Agency in 2019, AR101 could be available to patients around the world by late 2019.

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