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New mRNA treatment may cure peanut allergies

Words by Tess Becker

If the idea of peanuts in a salad scares you and Reese’s cups give you an anxious fit, you may be in luck thanks to a new mRNA treatment that hopes to wipe out peanut allergies. 

Peanut and tree nut allergies affect around 3 million people in the US and are very often life-threatening. There has been a lot of research into countering or preventing the allergy but other than something that helps with anaphylactic shock there has been little success.

Now, a major breakthrough might be around the corner, with scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The treatment comes in the form of medicine packaged up in tiny nanoparticles that not only reversed peanut allergies in mice but equipped the body with the microbiological tools needed to stop the often-life-threatening condition from developing.

“As far as we can find, mRNA has never been used for an allergic disease,” said study co-author Dr. André Nel, a professor at UCLA. “We’ve shown that our platform can work to calm peanut allergies, and we believe it may be able to do the same for other allergens, in food and drugs, as well as autoimmune conditions.”

This process takes cues from how we developed a vaccine for COVID-19, using many of the processes like delivering the nanoparticles to the liver so the body has more defense from with foreign substances, and it is home to antigen-presenting cells, which helps train the immune system to tolerate foreign proteins, rather than attack them.

Following the study, the researchers believe the treatment will go through clinical trials over the next three years. They also believe that it might be able to be coded to help with other allergies, and potentially even type 1 diabetes.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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