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Has a Friendly Beer Helped to Cure Peanut Allergies?

Before I had kids, I had no idea what a problem peanut allergies have become.  Now it seems that every class my kids are in and every sports team they are on includes at least one child with a dangerous allergy to nuts.

One trace of peanut protein can cause an allergic child to swell up and stop breathing in an instant.  It’s scary, scary stuff.  But there might be a bright spot on the horizon.

A pair of science nerds Ph.D’s from Northwestern University, Stephen Miller and Paul Bryce, have come up with a very promising treatment for peanut allergies. And they did it over a couple of beers.  Hooray for beer!

In essence, the allergic reaction is triggered when the body misidentifies peanut protein as an invader, and responds by setting off an immune response that involves a lot of swelling.  This swelling can include the throat, cutting off a child’s air supply, leading to death by asphyxiation.  Nasty stuff.

Miller (l) and Bryce (r). Take these two, add a couple of beers, and -viola! - problem solved!

Bryce, a food allergist, and Miller, an autoimmune disease expert, work in different parts of Northwestern’s science machine, but they like to get together on Friday nights to discuss what they’re working on over a couple of pints.

It was during such a session that Miller and Bryce came up with the idea of taking one of Miller’s concepts and applying it to Bryce’s work on peanut allergies.

In a nutshell (zing!), Miller had developed a technique to retrain the immune system to ignore harmless entities in the body by fusing them to white blood cells.  Bryce took this idea and tethered peanut proteins to white blood cells from allergic mice and re-injected them back into the critters.  And, Bingo! No more peanut allergy!

This could be just the breakthrough that parents with allergic kids have been praying for.  And the whole thing happened over a couple of beers.  Awesome.

It’s long been known that good things happen when folks slow down and talk thing out over a couple of cold ones.  This is true for politics, for race relations, and as it turns out, for science as well.  Again, hooray for beer!  Saving mankind one pint at a time!

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Categories: Beer, News, Off Topic

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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11 Comments on “Has a Friendly Beer Helped to Cure Peanut Allergies?”

  1. johnking82
    October 24, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Hmm, I always thought after drinking beer, it took longer to bust a (pea)nut….not for these guys!

    • October 24, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Ho-boy. Way to start the week, John!

  2. October 24, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    No matter how many beers are involved, violas have never solved any problems. 🙂 Cool story though!

    • October 24, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      Hold on now, what do you do when a violin isn’t enough, but a cello is too much? Viola!

      • October 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

        The only difference between a viola and an onion? Nobody cries when you cut a viola into little pieces.

        • October 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

          I thought that was the difference between an onion and a Kardashian…

  3. Don
    October 24, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    It also happened because those beers killed slow and weak brain cells, leaving just the best ones behind! Its true it was on TV, and said by none other than noted beer and everything else expert Cliff Claven!

    “A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. When the herd is hunted, the slow and weak at the back are killed first. The speed and health of the herd keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

    “In the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as its slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. Naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.

    “In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

  4. October 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    My son will be pleased to hear about the peanut cure but I want to know when they plan to come up with one for ragweed (and, by extension, cucumbers and melons).

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