New Clues to a Treatment for Food Allergy

Sublingual immunotherapy and oral immunotherapy are being explored as potential methods for the safe treatment and alleviation of food allergy, researchers reported at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Both forms of immunotherapy focus on strengthening the immune system by exposing it to increasing doses of allergens, allowing the development of immunity or tolerance. 

New research has shown that children with severe milk allergy who received long-running sublingual immunotherapy followed by oral immunotherapy had less allergic reactions, as well as a less frequent use of allergy medications.   

“While the overall result of the study, which was recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that oral was far more effective than sublingual immunotherapy, it was also clear that oral was associated with more significant allergic reactions to the treatment,” said senior study author Robert A. Wood, MD, FAAAAI, director of Allergy & Immunology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

After previous studies tested oral therapy following short periods of increasing sublingual doses, researchers randomly divided 30 children with milk allergy into 2 groups with varying lengths of sublingual therapy.

The group receiving the longer sublingual immunotherapy had fewer respiratory reactions and used fewer antihistamines and inhaled beta-agonists. 

“We continue to search for the best approach for the treatment of food allergy. This study shows that for at least some children, especially those with more frequent or severe reactions to oral immunotherapy, beginning treatment with sublingual might be beneficial,” Wood concluded. 

-Michael Potts

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