Oral Immunotherapy: Fighting Fire with Fire

Posted 7.21.09 | Mallory West

We’ve posted before about Oral Immunotherapy, but since our last update about research by Johns Hopkins, a few more positive studies have been conducted. These studies show hope that Oral Immunotherapy could someday lead to a more effective treatment for those suffering from various food allergies.

If you are not familiar with Oral Immunotherapy, it is essentially building up a tolerance to a certain allergen by ingesting small quantities of it and gradually increasing the amount of the allergen the patient can safely eat. As you can imagine, this is a risky process and should not be attempted at home, but might become a refined enough treatment to one day be used by doctors in treating food allergies.

Though the thought of being able to get rid of allergies is exciting, it’s not quite time to start celebrating. The studies conducted have been relatively small, and not 100% successful. Some of those involved in the process have had anaphylactic reactions, and others have just been unsuccessful in increasing dosage. It’s also not clear whether patients need to keep on eating the allergen to maintain tolerance.

While a lot of research still needs to be done to determine if Oral Immunotherapy is a viable treatment, the idea that individuals with food allergies may not have to avoid certain foods for the rest of their lives is exciting. To read a recent story from the Washington Post about a 9 year old girl with severe milk allergies who has successfully undergone immunotherapy, click here.

You can also check out how many clinical trials are currently being conducted by doing a search at the National Institute of Health Clinical Trials Web site.

Let’s hope these studies go somewhere, and be sure to update us on any other promising allergy treatments out there that you hear about!


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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.