Peanut allergy is a global health problem that kills hundreds of people every year. Many scientists are trying to develop effective vaccines but to date there is no safe and effective way to reliably induce tolerance. While allergic reactions to peanut are very different from allergic reactions to poison ivy, the two types of reaction require the SAME cellular and molecular steps for the induction of tolerance.
We are working to develop peanut allergy vaccines with the same physical properties as our effective poison ivy vaccines. These are being insoluble in water but forming soltions in alcohol that are very watery and thin. The scientific term for this is "low viscosity." If these vaccines are injected into muscle in the same way that we inject our poison ivy vaccines in alcohol, the peanut allergen should come out of solution in tiny particles of the same size as those of poison ivy allergen, and also be efficiently taken up by the allergen-processing cells of that tissue (muscle) which are predominantly of types that induce tolerance. The challenge is the chemistry of making peanut vaccines with the physical properties of poison ivy vaccine. We are making slow progress with the limited funding that's presently available, and applying for larger grants that would let us assign full time staff to this project.