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This study, called IMPACT, was co-led by A. Wesley Burks, MD, CEO of UNC Health and dean of the UNC School of Medicine. Edwin Kim, MD, is co-author on the paper and leads peanut allergy research at the UNC School of Medicine.

A clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health has found that giving peanut oral immunotherapy to highly peanut-allergic children ages 1 to 3 years safely desensitized most of them to peanut and induced remission of peanut allergy in one-fifth of participants.

The immunotherapy consisted of a daily oral dose of peanut flour for 2.5 years. Remission was defined as being able to eat 5 grams of peanut protein, equivalent to 1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter, without having an allergic reaction six months after completing immunotherapy. The youngest children and those who started the trial with lower levels of peanut-specific antibodies were most likely to achieve remission. The results of the trial, called IMPACT, were published in the journal The Lancet.

These landmark results suggest there is a window of opportunity in early childhood to induce remission of peanut allergy through oral immunotherapy. These findings could inform the development of treatment methods to reduce the burden of peanut allergy in children.

The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) sponsored the trial and funded it through its Immune Tolerance Network, under the leadership of A. Wesley Burks, MD, CEO of UNC Health, dean of the UNC School of Medicine, and vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Stacie M. Jones, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Read the full NIAID press release here.

Edwin Kim, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and medicine and member of the UNC Children’s Research Institute, led the UNC clinical trial site. He is pediatric allergy and immunology division chief and director of the UNC Food Allergy Initiative.

“With peanut being introduced earlier by families today, peanut allergy is likely to be diagnosed at younger and younger ages,” said Dr. Kim. “The IMPACT results show that not only can OIT be a safe and feasible treatment for these young toddlers, but intervening early on in peanut allergy may also lead to a more lasting effect.”

UNC School of Medicine contact: Mark Derewicz