Life-threatening peanut allergies can potentially be cured with the development of a new vaccine.
The vaccine, developed by researchers at the University of South Australia, uses a virus-based platform to rewrite the body's natural response to peanut allergens, causing it to elicit a non-allergic immune response in lieu of an allergic one, the university said in a statement.
The vaccine was developed in partnership with biotechnology company Sementis and the University of South Australia's Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory.
Project lead Dr Preethi Eldi said the vaccine could end parents' and children's need to remain vigilant at home, school and in social situations, as well as imposing strict dietary restrictions for the child and family members.
“If we can deliver an effective peanut allergy vaccine, we’ll remove this stress, concern, and constant monitoring, freeing the child and their family from the constraints and dangers of peanut allergy," Dr Eldi said.
Peanut allergies can cause adverse reactions ranging from mild hives, cramps, nausea and vomiting to life threatening anaphylactic reactions which require immediate medical attention. Severe allergic reactions can include impaired breathing, swelling in the throat, a sudden drop in blood pressure, dizziness, and even death.
University of South Australia's Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory head professor John Hayball said the vaccine is already having some success.
“Already, the vaccine is showing signs of success, shifting peanut-specific immune responses in mouse models of peanut allergy, and in preliminary in vitro vaccination-like studies using human blood samples from clinically-confirmed peanut allergic people," Mr Hayball said.
“The next steps are to gain further human samples and confirm the efficacy of the vaccine. This will demonstrate human translational capacity and will significantly increase the chances of success in future clinical trials.”
Peanuts are one of the most common food allergies in Australia, with one in 200 adults and almost three in 100 children having the allergy.
It's hoped funding from Channel 7's Children’s Research Foundation will help evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine in humans.