A strain of probiotic bacteria could offer a cure for potentially fatal peanut allergies, according to scientists in Australia.
The breakthrough followed a trial in which a group of children were given increasing amounts of peanut flour, along with a probiotic called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, over an 18-month period. About 80 per cent of the children who had peanut allergies were subsequently able to tolerate peanuts.
Mimi Tang, the lead researcher, said the families involved believed the treatment had changed their lives.
These findings provide the vital first step towards developing a cure for peanut allergy and possibly for all food allergies, she told Melbournes Herald Sun.
The randomised trial, involving a group of about 30 children, was conducted by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne.
The children, aged one to ten, were given small amounts of peanut flour, gradually building up to two grams, or the equivalent of six or seven nuts.
They were also given daily doses of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is found in yoghurt but was given in quantities equivalent to the amount found in 44 pounds of yoghurt.
Following the treatment, about 80 per cent of the children were able to tolerate four grams of peanut protein, equivalent to about 14 peanuts.