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Peanut allergies could be history by 2020

People of a certain age, say over 30, probably don’t remember peanut allergies being that big of a deal back in their schooling days. Now, peanut free lunch tables and even peanut free schools are the norm. No more peanut butter and jelly sanwiches in the name of the greater good.

According to one study from "Food Allergy Research & Education," the rate of peanut allergies tripled in this country between 1997 and 2008.

Childhood food allergies are a nightmare for millions of parents. 1 in 13 children have some sort of food allergy and the economic cost is estimated to be $25 billion a year.

Yes, there are ways of treating an allergic reaction but they’re not pleasant and often involve an emergency room. The CDC reported in 2008 that about 300,000 such visits occur annually for children under the age of 18.

So what if you simply didn’t need to worry anymore?

Could peanut allergies soon be a thing of the past? DBV Technologies' Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou thinks so. Photo: Getty

Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou of DBV Technologies (DBVT), a publically traded French biopharmaceutical company, thinks his team might have a better way of dealing with such allergies. Viaskin Peanut is a patch worn by those afflicted and changed daily. The patch works by slowly releasing small amounts of peanut protein onto the skin. The immune system, which normally rejects the protein in higher doses with deadly consequences, slowly builds a tolerance eventually becoming desensitized to it completely.

DBV recently completed the largest peanut allergy test in history throughout North America and Europe. The company says Viaskin Peanut “was shown to be effective at reducing the effect of peanut allergies and allows participants to significantly increase the quantity of peanut protein they can consume.”

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Despite the results of those tests and being granted “fast track status” by the FDA, Dr. Benhamou doesn’t expect the drug to come to market until 2018.

The success of Viaskin Peanut has led DVB to begin experimenting with dairy allergies as well.

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