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MGH Doctors Research Potential Peanut Allergy Cure

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Local doctors are launching a study that could offer new hope for people who suffer from peanut allergies.

Physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital are testing a new therapy that could cure some patients of this potentially life-threatening allergy; patients like young Oscar von Rekowsky, who has to be very careful what food he is around.

“I get an allergic reaction if I even touch it,” he said. Oscar’s mom Nicole says that he is very good about about alerting people to his peanut allergy.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

Doctors at Mass. General are now screening patients for a new study to test what could be a promising new cure for this potentially deadly allergy.

For more info: Contact the Food Allergy Center at Mass. General Hospital for Children at 617-643-5952

Subjects will be gradually exposed to tiny amounts of peanuts to see if they can be de-sensitized to the allergen.

“Some theories are the allergens cause cells to be tuned down or made less sensitive with small incremental exposure and, longer term, it induces a different kind of response and that may be protective as well,” said Dr. Wayne Shreffler, the director of the Food Allergy Center at Mass. General Hospital for Children.

Families and physicians say a potential cure could save thousands of lives and endless worrying for parents like Nicole.

“It would be great for us,” she said. “It’s manageable right now, but if they did have it, so much the better.”

“It’s a big deal for people who live with this,” agreed Dr. Shreffler. “There are 100 to 150 deaths every year, unfortunately because of this. To be able to offer some protection would make a big difference in the lives of these folks.”

By March, researchers hope to enroll 45 to 60 patients between the ages of three and 21 years old for the first phase of the study. They hope to expand the study if they can get additional funding.

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