Allergy Prevention

Peanuts with shell


“If you give a mouse a cookie…” leave out the peanuts!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science.

One in thirteen kids has a serious food allergy in the US. Allergic reactions can cause swelling in the throat, preventing a person from breathing. Epi-pens stop an existing reaction which has already started – like airbags or seat belts. But could we prevent this reaction from starting in the first place?

Enter Melanie Dispenza and researchers at Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins University. They tested a family of drugs called BTK inhibitors which could be the solution!

The researchers test drove this treatment in thirty mice. Then they fed the mice foods they were allergic to — like peanuts.

Results? These inhibitors prevented allergic reactions in almost all of the mice! Like taking the keys from a dangerous driver, the BTK blocker stops the problem from starting! This treatment could also work in humans and, if approved, could save lives.

No more worries about risky meals on family road trips! Except for Gummy Worms. I’m still not sure about those.

Reference: Dispenza, M. C., Krier-Burris, R. A., Chhiba, K. D., Undem, B. J., Robida, P. A., & Bochner, B. S. (2020). Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibition effectively protects against human IgE-mediated anaphylaxis. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 130(9), 4759–4770.