Reporting Mary Robb Jackson
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You’ll never find Luke Fabsiak going for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after school.
The North Hills sophomore had a severe reaction to peanut butter at age 3.
“It’s always something you think about, but, for me, I don’t let it get in the way too much,” Fabisiak said.
Since then, his mom has had to make sure that Fabisiak stays away from peanuts and keeps his Epi-Pen handy with a dose of epinephrine to stop him from going into anaphylactic shock.
“Everywhere, you never leave the house without one,” Fabisiak’s mother Peggy said. “He has one at school – I have one in my purse.”
At the moment there is no confirmed treatment or cure for peanut allergies. But the Research Center here a Children’s Hospital is one of 10 centers worldwide finding a unique way to desensitize people allergies to peanuts.
“The earlier results are that at least this seems to be a safe therapy, and we’re hoping that it leads to kids and adults being able to tolerate more,” said Dr. Todd Green.
Green is directing the local study using a skin patch containing peanut protein.
“It involves exposing them to small amounts of the protein and trying to redirect the body’s immune system so that these kids can tolerate it,” he said.
The study’s age 5-to-11 group is filled, but Dr. Green is looking for test subjects between ages 12-to-55.
It should be people that have had reactions to peanuts in the past and are currently maintaining a strictly peanut-free diet.
Potential participants have to have positive skin and blood tests; they also have to react to a peanut taste test.
“They have to react to a fairly small amount of peanut protein, about one-and-a-half peanuts,” Green said.
Participants must change the patch every 24 hours, for a year.
Coming up with a treatment might take a couple of years once the study results are in, FDA approval beyond that.
“These things take time which is a good thing for everyone’s safety,” Green said.
To find out more about the Peanut Allergy Study, contact the Pediatric Clinical and Transitional Research Center Children’s Hospital at 877-296-9026.