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A Tough Nut to Crack

Until now, the only way for those with peanut allergies to steer clear of anaphylaxis- a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction - was to avoid peanuts or peanut by-products altogether. They they accidentally ingest anything peanut related, short of a dash to the hospital emergence room the only option is an EpiPen®, a medical device used to inject a measured amount of epinephrine to counter or stave off anaphylaxis. 

However, recent clinical studies have shown promise that a new weapon for those with severe peanut allergies may boe on the horizon: oral immunotherapy. Oral immunotherapy involves adding a small amount  of peanut flour to meals, and then gradually increasing the amount over time. THe goal is to decrease sensitivity and build up a tolerance to peanuts. 

A recent study involved 99 children ages 7-16. Upon completion of the six-month study, 87 of the kids in the trial were able to eat the equivalent of five peanuts per day without any ill effects, or 25 times more than what they could tolerate prior to the study. 

Many questions remain unanswered, and researchers stress that this therapy should not be conducted at home. Only medical professionals in a specialist settings are qualified to conduct the therapy. 

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