Blog written by: Manisha Relan, MD
Currently, the only FDA-approved treatment for patients with persistent food allergies is avoidance. Over the past couple of decades, there has been an increasing interest in other treatment options, such as food patches [almost like a Nicotine patch for smoking cessation] or oral immunotherapy in which patients consume the food in increasing amounts over a long period of time. These therapies work to desensitize the patient to the food to which they are allergic. The goal is that by exposing the human body to a food allergen slowly, the body will become tolerant. That means the patient could possibly eat the food, as if they were never allergic to begin with. What a relief!
Recent research shows that oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy is more effective than patch therapy, although studies are still underway. However, the patch is much easier to use, is associated with less doctor visits, and has less side effects. Advanced stage research trials for these therapies have been showing great promise. Currently these potential treatments for peanut allergy are still being investigated, but the FDA is looking to approve one or all of these therapies in the near future. Longer term data is also being evaluated to make sure the therapies are safe, successful, and long-lasting. Research studies are also underway for other foods. Stay tuned!