Treatments for peanut allergies have long been the focus, including oral immunotherapy agents that are currently receiving FDA approval. A promising early trial at Stanford University has just emerged of another drug. In the experiment, scientists found that a single injection of antibody therapy could de-sensitise people who are allergic to peanuts for a period of time.
The drug, called Etokimab, is actually being tested as a treatment for eczema – just last month, foreign media reported promising results from the Phase 2a trial. According to Biotech Fierce, the trial last week was less positive, and the drug was actually worse than a placebo in relieving skin symptoms.
Etokimab works by targeting an immune signaling protein called IL-33, which “calls” the body’s immune cells to the injured site. However, excessive activity of some IL-33 proteins can cause these immune cells to overwork, leading to different autoimmune diseases, including asthma, eczema and various allergic reactions. The researchers hope drugs like Etokimab can help control proteins and avoid diseases.
Medical scientists at Stanford University are exploring their potential in treating peanut allergies, which other trials have hinted at last year. The team recruited 20 adults with severe peanut allergies and treated 15 adults with a single Etokimab injection, while the other five received a placebo.
Fifteen days after the injection, the group received a small amount of peanut protein (under close medical supervision). Eleven of the 15 etokimab recipients ingested the protein without an allergic reaction, while none in the placebo group did. After 45 days, protein was given again to seven etokimab recipients, four of whom again did not respond, and the placebo group was again unable to take it.
Senior author Kari Nadeau said: “We were surprised by the duration of this treatment. “This is obviously a very small sample size, but there are some encouraging signs. The team reported that in patients with severe peanut allergy, immunomarkers were often overdrive, far less pronounced in etokimab recipients, and none of the subjects showed any side effects.
The research team is conducting large-scale studies on more topics. Part of this will include the search for certain biomarkers to reveal those most likely to benefit from the treatment and the hope that etokimab will show the prospect of treatment for a range of food allergies.
Senior author Kari Nadeau said: “Although this is still in the experimental stage, we are still looking forward to testing a drug that will not only be used to treat a single food allergy, but will be used to treat a variety of foods and other allergic diseases.” “