London: Scientists in the US are developing `low-allergy` peanuts, offering hope to thousands of people with allergies associated with the popular seed.
Peanut allergies are relatively common and usually cause breathing problems.
But at their most serious, they can lead to a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
The US team has managed to remove or reduce key proteins thought to spark the allergy.
They stress the resulting peanuts are not genetically modified but the product of conventional cross-breeding.
The peanuts are still at a fledgling stage, but if further tests are successful they could be used widely to prevent the risks associated with production lines.
The key issue will be whether the peanut missing these proteins will be able to produce naturally occurring seeds with the same reduced allergy potential.
In principle, kids who consumed these low-allergy peanuts would be less likely to become allergic to all peanuts in the first place.
"And people that are already allergic would need to have a much higher dose before they suffered a reaction," the BBC quoted Professor Soheila Maleki as saying.
"In the case of accidental ingestion, there would be much less of a reaction," Maleki added.
It is believed that the peanuts could be available within two to five years.
The findings were presented at a congress of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in London.