Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Peanut progress . . .

ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK from allergic reaction to peanuts may have a cure! According to Alasdair Wilkins' article in io9, "Scientists figure out how to switch off peanut allergy", the technique is rather clever in its simplicity.

The peanut allergy is one of the eight most common types of food allergies, and the common use of peanuts in a wide range of foods makes it particularly dangerous. But now scientists have a solution: trick your immune system.

Now researchers at Northwestern University may have found a solution. The key is finding a way to short-circuit the immune system's response to peanut proteins. To do that, researchers Paul Bryce and Stephen Miller attached peanut proteins to blood cells, which are then reintroduced to the body. The T cells in the immune system recognize the familiar blood cells and start building up a tolerance to the peanut proteins, effectively removing the immune response that creates the peanut allergy. This method has been used before in helping to treat autoimmune disease, and now the researchers have been able to extend it to working with food allergies.

Soon, maybe, peanut butter can reappear in school lunches. Love those cookies.

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