A boy can tolerate peanuts thanks to a trial at Evelina London

Posted on Monday 14th September 2020
Boy on hospital bed at Evelina London receiving treatment

A boy severely allergic to peanuts can now safely tolerate seven of them thanks to a ground-breaking trial.

James Redman, 12, from Heathfield in East Sussex, was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy aged three. He took part in the ARTEMIS trial, which is one of the largest peanut allergy trials ever conducted. It involved being given increasing amounts of peanut protein for two and half years.

By the end of the trial he was able to tolerate the equivalent of seven whole peanuts, meaning that he is less likely to have a severe reaction in the future.

Zoe Redman, James’ mother, said: “The trial has taken a huge weight off our shoulders. We are now less fearful of James having a serious reaction.

“Being involved in the study was a huge commitment for our family. It involved trips to London every fortnight and taking time off school but the nursing team and doctors were fabulous with James. They gave him lots of support on how to manage his allergy and use his Epipens.

“James still has a peanut allergy and he will probably have to live with it for the rest of his life but he is now less likely to have a severe reaction if he is accidentally exposed. Taking part in the trial has made a huge difference to our lives.”

Peanut allergy, a potentially life-threatening condition, has doubled over the last two decades and affects about 1 in 50 children in the UK. The allergy is rarely outgrown and is the most common cause of food allergy deaths.

The ARTEMIS study recruited nearly 200 children and young people aged four to 17 from across Europe to take part in one of the largest peanut allergy treatment trials that had ever been conducted. Evelina London Children’s Hospital recruited the most patients to the study.

Participants either received peanut allergen protein (AR101) or a placebo powder. Doses were gradually increased every two weeks for a year.

The results, which were recently published in the journal Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, found that more than half of the participants (58%) treated with the peanut protein could tolerate at least 3 to 4 peanuts compared to just 2% of participants on the placebo.

Professor George du Toit, paediatric allergy consultant at Evelina London and the study's chief investigator, said: “This study provides yet more evidence that by gradually ingesting small amounts of well-characterised peanut protein, allergy sufferers can increase their tolerance and protect themselves from severe reactions in the event of accidental exposure.

“It means we are now a step closer to an effective peanut allergy treatment and gives hope to the peanut allergy sufferers. The study is also the first to show that this type of treatment can massively improve quality of life for families affected by peanut allergy.

“Peanut allergy can be very difficult to manage, especially for children and young people, and many families are extremely concerned about having a severe reaction, which can be life-threatening.

“It’s great that the study had such a good outcome for James and was life-changing for many of our families. However, it should not be done without medical supervision, as a small number of children did have a reaction to the peanut protein and required medical treatment.”

James said: “Taking part in the study was the greatest opportunity of my life. The nurses and doctors were really caring and great fun. I didn’t mind the taste of the peanut protein as I got to mix it with chocolate pudding which was great. I really hope the study leads to a treatment so that other children with a peanut allergy can benefit.”