A new experimental drug is not promising to be a cure for peanut allergies, but it could prevent deadly reactions in those with severe allergies. (Photo: MBPROJEKT_Maciej_Bledowski, Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Oral treatment for peanut allergies increased allergic reactions compared to avoiding the treatment altogether, a study published Thursday revealed.

The study published in The Lancet pulled together results from 12 randomized, controlled trials, including more than 1,000 patients, to compare participants with oral immunotherapy, treatment of a person with an allergy is fed the allergen in small doses to help build up a tolerance.

The average age Participants were 9 years old, researchers said. They were followed for about a year, measuring adverse reactions, the need to use epinephrine, and reports of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Results showed participants using oral treatment for a peanut allergy were three times more likely to report anaphylaxis than those who did not use the immunotherapy. The risk of using epinephrine or suffering an adverse reaction was twice as high, said the study.

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Meanwhile, the study also showed the quality of life for participants on the immunotherapy was not the same as those who did not use the treatments.

" method needs to be more carefully considered, improvements in safety made, and measures of success need to be aligned with patients' wishes, "said Dr. Derek Chu, a lead author of the Department of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, in a statement.

Last December, a study was released saying an experimental drug used to help build a tolerance over time to peanuts is ready for review by the Food and Drug Administration.

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The FDA is reviewing an experimental drug that shows it's possible to build up a peanut tolerance over time.
     USA TODAY

In an interview with USA TODAY, said the trials administered immunotherapy in different ways, such as powder for food, a capsule, or through peanut butter or foods containing peanuts given in controlled doses. However, certain activities such as exercise or even a hot shower could trigger someone to have a severe reaction.

"This type of therapy is still investigational. It's experimental," Chu said. "Patients need to know the facts exactly where the field is at."

There are currently no approved treatments for peanut allergies. In 2017, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease updated guidelines on peanut allergies, saying they could be curbed by the introduction of food as soon as early infancy.

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The goal of a potential drug for peanut allergies is not to allow patients to enjoy peanuts but potentially life-threatening situations after eating food cross-contaminated with peanuts, said Dr. Sandra Hong, an allergy doctor with The Cleveland Clinic not affiliated with the study.

"There have been deaths from allergic peanut, and the hope is that it would prevent it," Hong said.

Chu suggests more robust clinical trials To improve the effectiveness of oral treatments for a peanut allergy. "We can make it work partially," he said. "We need to make significant improvements to safety if this is going to be rolled out."

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @ brettmolina23 .

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