Why do peanuts trigger allergic reactions?
Last Updated: Friday, February 12, 2010, 00:00

Sydney: Researchers now have a clue as to why peanuts trigger life-threatening allergic reactions, a finding that potentially opens the way to avert such outcomes.

"Peanut allergy is a major clinical problem for both children and adults, but what makes peanut allergens life-threatening isn`t well understood," explains Cenk Suphioglu, lecturer at Deakin`s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, in Melbourne.

"As opposed to previous research looking at individual peanut allergens in isolation, we looked at the whole peanut - the allergens and the non-allergens. We found that peanut proteins interact with one another to form super-allergens," says Suphioglu.

"These super-allergens, we believe, could be responsible for peanuts triggering potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis, the most severe form of allergic reaction. We are currently working to test this theory."

Suphioglu and his team are also researching ways of blocking the peanut allergy reaction. "In simple terms, an allergic reaction is the result of an allergen reacting with antibodies produced by the body in response to that allergen," he said.

"If we can prevent the peanut allergens from reacting with the antibodies, we believe we can prevent or reduce the allergic reaction from occurring in the first place.

"We have recently been successful in identifying a substance that significantly blocks, or inhibits, the interaction between human antibodies and the major peanut allergens."

"Now we are working to better understand this inhibitor and how we can enhance its ability to block or reduce peanut allergy reactions," concludes Suphioglu.

Suphioglu said that the work being done by his team also has potential benefits for all allergy sufferers, according to a Deakin release.


First Published: Friday, February 12, 2010, 00:00

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