The Peanut Puzzle: Possible peanut allergy treatments studied - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

The Peanut Puzzle: Possible peanut allergy treatments studied

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The prevalence of food allergies in kids is on the rise, now affecting roughly two children in every classroom.

One of the most common allergens is peanut.

So what can be done to try to help these kids living with this potentially life threatening disease? 21 News anchor Leslie Barrett looked into the issue and clinical trials underway to try to help.

What's usually one of the happiest times of the day for school kids can be stressful for millions like Caden Fleet, who have potentially life threatening food allergies.

The Boardman 11-year-old remembers going into anaphylactic shock at a Mexican restaurant a couple years ago.

"I was scared. I didn't know what was happening because I was very young. I couldn't like really breath. I couldn't really see either, like my nose started getting stuffy," he said.

Refried beans were the culprit, but he is also allergic to other legumes like peanuts.

Since there is no treatment, all he can do is avoid anything even produced with those foods and always have an EpiPen on hand for a reaction.
"You get your kid on the bus, especially when they're young, and you think they're going to school and you hope they do well on their tests or whatever, but this is like a whole different level. You hope that they are safe," said Caden's mother, Carmelena Fleet.

Peanut free zone signs have popped up at Boardman Center Intermediate School and they're not alone. The number of kids with peanut allergies appears to have tripled in recent years. Researchers don't know why more kids are becoming allergic, but there is some hope for possible treatment. 

"It would be a significant leap forward if we could do something that would cut down on their risk of exposure, even if they're not eating a whole peanut butter sandwich. If we could prevent the risk of a reaction from the bite of a cookie or a restaurant meal where there might be a small amount," said Dr. Todd Green, Food Allergy Center Director at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. 

Protection from a little bit of exposure is the goal of two clinical trials in their final phases at sites around the world including Children's Hospital.

One drug is a peanut patch placed on the skin and the other is a peanut flour that you eat mixed in with foods like applesauce. Both are being tested for possible daily use.

"The basic idea with any immunotherapy is to expose people to small amounts of what they're allergic to try to recondition or redirect the body's immune response," Dr. Green said.

Earlier phases are promising and each drug could be approved by the FDA in 2018.

"If that was something I could do, I would be full force with that. I just have conflicting opinions as far as his levels may be too high, or it is scary because I've seen him go anaphylactic and he's apprehensive about it because he knows how that feels," said Carmelena.

There are still a lot of unknowns, but also now a tiny bit of optimism.

If you or your child is interested in participating in a similar study, Children's Hospital hopes to start some new trials with these same therapies in the next couple of months.

You can call and leave your name and information at 1-877-296-9026.

You can also find more information at the following links:

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Allergy Clinical Studies  

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