A SCIENTIFIC breakthrough which could help deadly reactions to peanut allergies has been welcomed in East Lancashire.

New research shows children could be protected from the deadly effects of nut allergies by slowly building up their tolerance.

Allergic children are given small amounts of nut protein and and after six months of gradual exposure, up to 90 per cent could safely eat five peanuts a day.

The news was welcomed as “a move in the right direction” by families affected in East Lancashire.

Darwen mum Leanne Tomlinson’s seven-year-old son Lucas has a nut allergy so strong just the smell of one could kill him.

She said: “I think it is a brilliant idea and it is quite surprising really that they’ve had so much success.

“I have no idea if it could benefit Lucas, it is probably too early to know that if they have only just done the research.

“One thing that does concern me is that it’s too early to know what the long term side effects are.

“However it is amazing that scientists are working so hard to try and understand how to help. It’s a move in the right direction”

As a drastic measure to protect Lucas, whose allergy is one of the worst in the country, his school has banned parents from allowing any snacks and meals containing nuts to be brought in.

A care plan has also been compiled with teachers at St Barnabas CE Primary School, Darwen, his parents, and school nurses to minimise any risk.

Oswadltwistle teacher Dom Sanna, whose 19-year-old sister Francesca died of her food allergies, said: “It's certainly welcome news to anyone who suffers extreme reactions to peanuts. It could potentially help them lead a much more normal life without constant fear of anaphylactic shock. However, it's not yet a guaranteed cure and doesn't have a 100 per cent success rate.

“However, any progress at all in the field is certainly a welcome step in the right direction.”

Study leader Dr Andrew Clark, from Cambridge University Hospitals, said: "This treatment allowed children with all severities of peanut allergy to eat large quantities of peanuts, well above the levels found in contaminated snacks and meals - freeing them and their parents from the fear of a potentially life threatening allergic reaction.

"Before treatment, children and their parents would check every food label and avoiding eating out in restaurants. Now most of the patients in the trial can safely eat at least five whole peanuts. The families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically."