Building on an international network of pioneering research into life-threatening peanut allergies, the James Paget has become the first hospital in the country to provide a Peanut Allergy Desensitisation clinic using the newly NICE approved drug PALFORZIA.
Approval of the drug by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is the latest step in five years of extensive research into peanut allergies, one of the most common food allergies that affects more than six million people in Europe and America.
People with the allergy can suffer severe and potentially life-threatening reactions if they ingest even a small amount of peanut.
Peanut allergies are normally detected in early childhood, and the current approach is to avoid them through dietary intake, and carry around emergency medication in case peanut proteins are eaten. The alternative approach is ‘oral immunotherapy’ – where a persons’ immune system is desensitised to peanut proteins by steadily increase exposure to them as an oral medication.
The James Paget has been part of the global ARTEMIS research trial, which involved 175 children aged 4-17 years across seven European countries, to develop an oral immunotherapy to tackle peanut allergies. ARTEMIS saw young patients receive steadily increased doses of the drug over a period of up to 40 weeks, under strictly controlled conditions, while others received a placebo.
In consequence to the successful outcomes from the trial, the Trust has become the first hospital licenced for use of PALFORZIA in the clinic, funded through the James Paget Hospital Charity’s Innovation Fund. Initially, the clinic will support 10-12 children in the first year of operation, who will receive PALFORZIA orally in escalating doses to desensitise them to peanut proteins.
Dr John Chapman, Consultant Paediatrician at the James Paget, said: “Approval of use of PALFORZIA is a big step forward for people with peanut allergies. Having this treatment in place as an option is a vital part of supporting people with peanut allergies, many of whom are very young when this allergy is discovered.
“We are proud that the Trust is the first in the country to offer this treatment – with special thanks to the young patients and their families that took part in the ARTEMIS trial to get us to this point.”
The first PALFORZIA clinics took place this week at the James Paget, on 9 June 2022.
For more information about the Trust’s involvement in ARTEMIS, visit https://www.jpaget.nhs.uk/news-media/news-events/2019-news/july-2019-news/paget-helps-effort-to-tackle-peanut-allergy/
Our photograph shows Dr John Chapman (right) and Paediatric Nurse Practitioner Clive Ellis, with packs of the PALFORZIA drug.