Single injection curtails peanut allergy for weeks in Stanford study
The long pursuit of a treatment for peanut allergy is littered with false dawns, but there are also some promising possibilities on the horizon, including one currently on the cusp of FDA approval. Another has just emerged via a promising early trial at Stanford University, where scientists found a single injection of an antibody treatment enabled those with severe allergies to stomach peanuts for some time.
The drug in question is called etokimab and is actually being trialed as treatment for eczema – just last month we reported on its promising results from a Phase 2a trial. The trials that followed last week weren’t so positive, as reported by FierceBiotech, with the drug actually doing worse than a placebo in alleviating symptoms of the skin condition.
Etokimab works by targeting an immune-signaling protein called IL-33, which summons the body’s immune cells to the site of an injury. But too much activity on part of the IL-33 protein can push these immune cells into overdrive, leading to different autoimmune conditions, including asthma, eczema and various allergic reactions. It is hoped that a drug like etokimab can help to keep the protein in check and stave off these ailments.
Medical scientists at Stanford University set out to explore its potential in treating peanut allergies, which had been hinted at through other trials last year. The team enlisted 20 adults with severe peanut allergies and treated 15 with a single etokimab injection, while the other five received a placebo.
Fifteen days after the injection, the group was given a small amount of peanut protein, equal to that in a single nut (under close medical supervision). Eleven of the 15 etokimab recipients consumed the protein without an allergic reaction, while none of the placebo group were able to do so. After 45 days, seven of the etokimab recipients were again given the protein, with four of them again exhibiting no reaction, while the placebo group was again unable to consume it.
“We were surprised how long the effects of the treatment lasted,” says senior author, Kari Nadeau.
This is obviously a tiny sample size, but there are some promising signs. The team reports that the immune markers usually kicked into overdrive in people with severe peanut allergies were far less evident in the etokimab recipients, while none of the subjects exhibited side effects.
From here, the team is drawing up a larger study with more subjects. Part of this will include searching for certain biomarkers that could reveal the people most likely to benefit from the treatment, with hope that etokimab could show promise as a treatment for a range of food allergies.
“Although this is still in the experimental stages, we’re delivering on the hope of testing a drug that won’t be for one food allergy but for many, and for other allergic diseases, too,” says senior author, Kari Nadeau.
The research was published in the journal JCI Insight.
Source: Stanford University