Study Shows Taking Omalizumab Can Desensitize Food Allergies

Healthcare Training Resource
March 12, 2014 — 1,223 views  
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Doctors have often grappled with treatment dilemmas for patients suffering from a food allergy, often more than one. A recent research outcome comes as good news for patients and medical practitioners. A new study confirms that omalizumab exposure would help people become less sensitive to allergies.

The study was led by Kari C. Nadeau from California’s Stanford University, and was performed on 22 individuals who had allergies to milk of cows, peanuts, sesame and grains. The individuals who were part of the study were predominantly male and were in the 4-16 age bracket. The participants were given omalizumab for two months following their inclusion into the test. Two months and one week after they were first injected, they were given higher doses of more allergens, totalling five, in a 2½ hour timeframe. Two more months of omalizumab later, the allergen dosage increased gradually. After four months, they stopped intake of omalizumab, but allergen intake continued. A point came when the participants could hold as many as four grams of an allergen (overall 20 gm) without any reaction.

No serious reactions to allergens

The study showed that only 401 out of 7,530 doses gave way to reactions, which is just about five percent. Also, during the research, there were no dangerous reactions among participants, though a particular participant showed a reaction at one point, but medication immediately solved the problem. Also, all the reactions were shown only in the first few months of the study. By the time participants reached half a year post-omalizumab, reactions to allergens dropped sharply, from 11 to 3 allergen reactions for one hundred doses.

The study, which was published in the journal, ‘Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology’ in February 2014, had some limitations, as pointed out by researchers. The dosage was custom-made to individual participants; also participants with extreme allergies were not part of the study. A third limitation was that omalizumab was administered in an experimental method of treatment.

Earlier study without omalizumab

This research was taken up after an earlier study where participants were not given omalizumab. In that study, participants were given small allergen doses every day. The dose was increased till participants reached the point of four grams of each allergen, without showing any reaction. However, this happened only 1 year, 8 months after the doses were first given. The two studies go to show that people develop a tolerance to allergens way faster than those who did not get any omalizumab treatment prior to the study timeframe. 

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