Scientists from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a study, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, to determine how probiotics could keep peanut allergies at bay in the long term.
To do so, they combined a bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is known to calm the immune system and reduce allergic reactions, with a peanut protein in increasing amounts for a process known as peanut oral immunotherapy. The mix was designed to alter the way the immune system reacts to peanuts.
They then tested it on a group of children, giving some the probiotic and others a placebo once daily for 18 months.
After analyzing the results, they found that 80 percent of those given the probiotic saw no signs of the allergy after four years, and 70 percent passed an exam that determined that their peanut tolerance was long-term.
“It would seem that children who have benefited from the probiotic peanut therapy are able to change the way that they live and not have to really worry about peanuts anymore,” Mimi Prang, lead researcher, told the journal. “That’s what’s exciting.”
Researchers did note, however, that their experiment was limited as it only included a small group. Therefore, more experiments should be done on larger groups.
Scientists also want to test whether the probiotic could help with other food allergies.
“Theoretically, it should work for any other allergen that’s also presented with this probiotic,” Prang said. "I think a really important study to do next would be to see if it works in the setting of other food allergies to induce a long-lasting tolerance.”