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Probiotics can Combat Peanut Allergies

Update Date: Aug 26, 2014 02:58 PM EDT

Food allergies can become life threatening. People who have these severe allergies have to closely watch they eat. Since allergies require so much attention and care, researchers have attempted to find ways of preventing allergies from manifesting or boosting people's tolerance to their allergies. In a new study, researchers experimented on mice models and discovered that probiotics can help combat peanut allergies.

"We've seen a generational change in the prevalence of food allergies," said senior study author Cathryn Nagler, an immunologist at the University of Chicago reported by FOX News. "When I was in elementary school, my brothers and I ate peanut butter and jelly for lunch every day. Now, my children's classrooms are peanut free it's estimated that, in the U.S., there are now two children in every classroom with potentially life-threatening allergic responses to food."

For this study, the researchers from the University of Chicago tested the effects of bacteria in treating allergies present in mice models. The team raised a group of mice in a completely sterile environment. The mice did not have any gut bacteria and had a strong immune response to peanut. The researchers set out to see if adding different kinds of bacteria to the digestive tract could help the mice.

Out of all the bacteria that the team tried, only the Clostridia group of bacteria was capable of preventing an allergic reaction from occurring. The bacteria also reversed the mice's sensitivity to peanuts. The bacteria worked by causing the cells in the outer layers of the intestines to create high levels of interleukin-22. This molecule helps reduce the permeability of the intestines, which means that fewer allergens can reach the bloodstream where they cause allergic reactions.

"The first step is for an allergen to gain access to the blood stream, the presence of Clostridia prevents the allergens getting into the bloodstream," Dr. Nagler told the BBC News. "Clostridia are known to be closely linked to the intestinal lining, they are spore forming which makes them tricky to work with, but down the road they would be a candidate to put in a to pill as they are highly stable."

The researchers hope to find a drug that can cause the same effects of the bacteria. The study, "Commensal bacteria protect against food allergen sensitization," was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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