TAMPA, Fla — If you feel like you’re noticing more peanut allergies nowadays, you’re not wrong. It is estimated that the number of children with peanut allergies has tripled in the past two decades.

Now, the FDA is one major step closer to approving the first treatment for peanut allergies and part of the research for this ground-breaking treatment was run at USF.

“Even 10 years ago, we would have wondered if we’d have this much of an advancement, that we have an are seeing right now. So this is a major advancement. Not ideal, not perfect, but a step in the right direction," explained Dr. Richard Lockey of the allergy and immunology department at USF. 

An advisory committee has recommended Palforzia, the drug Lockey and his team at USF conducted research around, be approved for use. This could happen by the beginning of 2020 and would make it the first FDA-approved drug for treating food allergies.

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“I see a huge relief from both my parents and my kids. Every one of them would tell me that they’re so glad they did this,” said Michelle Twitmyer, the clinical research coordinator for the study at USF Health.

If this drug is approved, the nearly 1.6 million children who suffer from peanut allergies could have a path to treatment.

“Up to 200 people per year in the United States allegedly die from some sort of food allergy. Of those 200, over 50 percent die from peanut allergy. So peanut is the number one food culprit, food allergy, that leads to serious reaction and even death," Twitmyer said.

And this could mean advancements for those suffering from other allergies. 

“This will parlay into other allergies, for sure. In other words, some clinicians in the United States are already doing oral immunotherapy. And they are doing it, not just with peanut, but they’re doing it with milk, egg, other food," Lockey said.

If the drug is approved, it still might not be accessible for everyone with a peanut allergy. The treatment requires multiple doctors visits over six months and without insurance could cost thousands of dollars.

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