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Asthma medication effective against food allergies in kids: Study published in New England Journal of Medicine

Discover how an asthma medication can safeguard children from severe allergic responses. Learn from Stanford and Johns Hopkins research findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Muskan Gupta Written By: Muskan Gupta New Delhi Updated on: February 26, 2024 17:13 IST
Food allergies
Image Source : GOOGLE Food allergies in kids

A recent study conducted by researchers in the United States has uncovered a promising finding: a medication commonly prescribed for asthma sufferers could potentially aid children battling food allergies.

Led by scientists from Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University, the study reveals that regular use of omalizumab, a drug typically used to manage asthma, may offer protection against severe allergic reactions in children exposed to small amounts of allergenic foods.

Omalizumab, initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating conditions like allergic asthma and chronic hives, operates by targeting and deactivating immunoglobulin E (IgE), the molecule responsible for triggering allergies.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study's findings prompted the FDA to extend approval for omalizumab to include reducing the risk of allergic reactions to food.

Lead author Robert Wood, a Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, underscores the significance of this discovery, stating, "Patients impacted by food allergies face a daily threat of life-threatening reactions due to accidental exposures. The study showed that omalizumab can be a layer of protection against small, accidental exposures."

The study involved 177 children, each afflicted with at least three food allergies. Among them, 38 percent were aged 1 to 5 years, 37 percent were 6 to 11 years old, and 24 percent were 12 or older.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive either omalizumab injections or a placebo over 16 weeks. Subsequent evaluations between weeks 16 and 20 revealed a remarkable outcome: 66.9 percent of those administered omalizumab could tolerate at least 600 mg of peanut protein – equivalent to the amount found in two or three peanuts – compared to a mere 6.8 percent of those who received the placebo.

Similarly encouraging results were observed concerning other allergenic foods examined in the study. Approximately 80 percent of patients receiving omalizumab demonstrated the ability to consume small quantities of at least one allergen without experiencing an adverse reaction. Moreover, 69 percent could tolerate small amounts of two allergenic foods, while 47 percent could ingest small portions of all three.

These findings offer hope for children grappling with food allergies and suggest a potential breakthrough in managing this challenging condition.

(with IANS inputs)

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