Well, yes and no.
A cure that eliminates Peanut Allergy? No.
A treatment that had been shown to work but was suppressed due to corporate greed and bickering? Well, then, YES.
I've noticed some of the newer allergy bloggers getting really excited about new research in Peanut Allergy - that a cure is right on the horizon - it is so close! And I am right next to them cheering on the folks in New York and North Carolina that are pushing to the forefront of oral desensitization.
But did you know, that just a few years ago, there was a drug in clinical trials that was proven effective at reducing accidental exposure risk? That it was a drug you could give your child to guard them in the case of accidental exposure? It's called TNX-901. But don't try to get it for your child because you can't.
Yup. It's true.
Here's what I have gathered from my own (frustrating) research. It is probably full of some holes, but I'll try and keep it short and sweet.
Basically a company called Tanox developed a drug called TNX-901 that was an anti IgE antibody. It bound to IgE antibodies in the blood and prevented allergic reactions to peanuts. The FDA even fast tracked it in an effort to bring it to market faster. The clinical trials went really well (if you don't believe me, check out the abstract at the New England Journal of Medicine site and make sure you are sitting down when you read the Conclusions portion of the abstract). Going from sensitivity at ingesting half a peanut to sensitivity after NINE?!? That, my friend, is progress.
But two drug companies, Genentech and Novartis, claimed that the drug was too similar to their drug Xolair (you've heard of that, right?) and tied up TNX-901's progress in legal battles. Eventually, Tanox gave up and were paid to stop researching it. I guess Tanox couldn't afford the fight.
Here's a link to the copy of a Wall Street Journal article that goes into greater detail on the fight and ultimately how financial power was the ultimate decider of this promising drug's fate. (I couldn't link to the original WSJ article - sorry).
So what does that say for Xolair and it's use as a preventative measure for accidental exposure to peanuts? That remains to be seen. Xolair clinical trials were halted in 2006 after two children suffered severe reactions before actual testing of the drug even began.
So why don't Genentech and Novartis get to work on TNX-901 (or a variant of it)? I mean, they own it, now, right? Is it a blow to their pride that a little company got somewhere they couldn't? Your guess is as good as mine.
Something to think about. I'm not trying to be Erin Brokovich here, but how frustrating is this?!?
If you know anything about this drug (or would like to correct anything I've written here) please leave a comment.