Australian scientists have possibly identified world's first treatment for the often-lethal peanut allergy- "fragments" of peanuts.
The research identified peanut proteins that lab tests showed were able to interact with immune cells from an allergic person, and so build tolerance, but they showed no sign of triggering anaphylaxis.
"These dominant fragments are the best candidates for a peanut allergy vaccine," News.com.au quoted Professor Robyn O'Hehir who led the research at Melbourne's The Alfred hospital and Monash University, as saying.
"Immunotherapy is commonly used to treat people who are allergic to wasp and bee stings (where) protein extracts from the venom are given in increasing doses to desensitise the individual.
"Until now, peanuts have been regarded as too dangerous an allergy-provoker to try immunotherapy, however the latest discovery overcomes this problem."
Professor O'Hehir said the peanut proteins could be translated into a therapy able to be go into clinical trials within three years and, if proven safe and effective, a world-first treatment could follow "within five to seven years".
It would not be a once-off jab but instead people with the potentially lethal allergy would have a series of injections, over weeks or months, to gradually increase their tolerance.
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of life-threatening food reactions, including anaphylaxis.
The research has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.