Peanut allergy study holds promise for younger patients

As ABC11-WTVD reports, a UNC Children's study testing a potential treatment for peanut allergy in young children is showing promising results.

Click to view the WTVD report on Brayden's treatment.
A news report from ABC11-WTVD highlights a UNC Food Allergy Initiative study testing a potential treatment for peanut allergy that involves exposing young children to increasing doses of peanut—and with very promising results.

Typical among the patients in the study is 6-year-old Brayden Bailor of Charlotte, whose participation in the study is highlighted in the news story. Brayden had his first reaction to peanut when he was 15 months and has been participating in this UNC Children's for more than three years. There was no previous history of food allergies in his family and his parents were caught by surprise.

"You worry about everywhere he goes, everything he eats, and people he comes in contact with," says his mother, Karrie.

Dr. Brian Vickery

The study involves giving the study participants very small doses of peanut flour mixed with other foods daily. When child comes to UNC for testing, that dose is almost doubled, the child's reaction closely monitored. If possible, the daily at-home dose is then increased.

"What we've seen is that 80 percent of those kids have done well and have been able to put peanut in their diet," says Brian Vickery, MD, director of the UNC Food Allergy Initiative. "That's higher than what we've seen in other studies of this approach, and again we think that's because we're targeting these younger children who are both more amenable to therapy and may have immune responses that are less well developed and are maybe easier to correct."

This could lead to a change in the way food allergies are treated, especially in younger patients. Dr. Vickery says more studies will have to be conducted, but the results are promising. And for Brayden and his parents, the study may mean never having to worry about peanuts again.

"Long term, we're hoping for him to not have to worry about it in the future," says his mother. "He's at the tail end of this study, so we're hoping after . . . our last visit he'll be able to eat peanut."