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WE'VE CRACKED IT; 'Cure' for kids' nut allergies.

Byline: ADRIAN SHAW

DOCTORS have developed a possible cure for potentially lethal nut allergies in children, it was revealed yesterday.

It involves giving them tiny traces of peanut flour every day to retrain their immune system.

The dose is increased over four months until youngsters can eat a handful of nuts a day. Doctors have successfully treated 20 children and wider trials are now planned. Pamela Ewan, who developed the therapy at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge, said: "So far we have treated 20 patients who can now safely eat up to 12 peanuts a day.

"The patients have told us it has been a lifechanging experience. It has taken away a huge fear that had been looming over them." Now, the Addenbrooke's team hope to treat allergies to milk, eggs and gluten.

Dr Ewan added: "We are essentially retraining the immune system. It is still early days as we still need to work out how long term the desensitisation is."

Experts welcomed the research but warned against trying out the possible cure at home. John Payne, deputy chief executive of Allergy UK, said: "This gives tremendous hope for food allergy sufferers. Food allergies can make life so miserable.

"We wouldn't want people to try this treatment themselves as they need to be in a clinically controlled environment."

About one in 50 children suffers from a nut allergy, which in extreme cases can be triggered just by shaking hands with someone who has eaten nuts.

Allergic reactions are caused when antigens in the immune system wrongly identify peanuts as a threat.

The immune system then attacks the patient's own body, causing reactions such as stomach upsets, rashes and serious breathing difficulties, which can be fatal.

CASE STUDY

'It's like he's a new boy'

MICHAEL Frost, 10, enjoyed his first Chinese meal after getting his peanut allergy all-clear from Addenbrooke's.

Mum Kate, 46, of Flitwick, Beds said: "Eating out used to be a no-no. It's like having a new child."

CAPTION(S):

DANGER One in 50 kids are allergic ALL-CLEAR Michael Frost
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 20, 2009
Words:340
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