Peanut allergy vaccine to rewrite immune system

Peanut allergies could become a thing of the past as breakthrough research from the University of South Australia  develops a radically novel vaccination that’s poised to cure the potentially life threatening condition.

Globally, the incidence of food allergies and related life-threatening anaphylaxis is increasing, with the World Allergy Organisation reporting 220 to 550 million are affected.

Peanuts are one of the most common food allergies and the most likely food to cause anaphylaxis or death. In Australia, there is particularly high prevalence of peanut allergies with one in 200 adults and almost three in every 100 children affected.

The new peanut allergy vaccine is formulated by packaging bits of peanut proteins into the Sementis Copenhagen-vectored (SCV) virus platform. SCV is a groundbreaking technology developed by Dr Paul Howley, Chief Scientific Officer of Sementis and UniSA’s Professor John Hayball, Head of UniSA’s Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory.

Dr William Smith, Head of the Clinical Immunology and Allergy unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and lead clinician involved in the study, says that there are varying degrees of ‘clinical’ desensitisation of peanut allergy, but to date none have succeeded in safely and completely eradicating peanut allergy.

“An effective vaccine for use in peanut allergy must be safe to administer with minimal adverse events, have a short immunisation schedule to improve compliance specifically with peanut allergic children and, most importantly, induce life-long protection.

“The preliminary data is encouraging and favours that the vaccine can meet all these criteria. It’s very exciting research and we are very positive to take the next step into what we hope will be a cure for peanut allergy.”

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