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Peanut allergy is common and can be a cause of severe, life-threatening reactions. It is rarely outgrown like other food allergies, such as egg and milk. Peanut allergy has a significant effect on the quality of life of sufferers and their families, due to dietary and social restrictions, but mainly stemming from fear of accidental peanut ingestion. The current management consists of strict avoidance, education and provision of emergency medication, but a disease- modifying therapy is needed for peanut allergy. Recent developments involve the use of immunotherapy, which has shown promise as an active form of treatment. Various routes of administration are being investigated, including subcutaneous, oral, sublingual and epicutaneous routes. Other forms of treatment, such as the use of vaccines and anti-IgE molecules, are also under investigation. So far, results from immunotherapy studies have shown good efficacy in achieving desensitisation to peanut with a good safety profile. However, the issue of long-term tolerance has not been fully addressed yet and larger, phase III studies are required to further investigate safety and efficacy. An assessment of cost/benefit ratio is also required prior to implementing this form of treatment. The use of immunotherapy for peanut allergy is not currently recommended for routine clinical use and should not be attempted outside specialist allergy units.
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