A new study suggests a promising treatment may allow many children with egg allergies to safely eat eggs and foods containing eggs.

University of North Carolina researchers studied 55 children with egg allergies between the ages of 5 and 11.  Forty of them took egg-white powder pills for 4 to 6 weeks as part of an immunotherapy program.  The rest received a placebo.  Those who received the real egg whites got a small amount to start, then gradually increasing doses.

"What we started off with was literally about 1/10,000th of an egg," said Dr. Wesley Burks, who led the multi-center study.

After a year, half of the participants could eat a whole egg without complication.  After two years -- three-quarters could do it.

Burks stops short of calling this a cure, but --

"I think what you can say is that they're eating eggs in their diet now, and they're eating them without symptoms," said Burks.

More studies are needed, but researchers said if all goes well, the treatment could be available to the general public within the next 5 to 10 years.

Doctors are using the same technique with other highly allergenic foods, including nuts and milk.

The study will be published Thursday (July 19) in the New England Journal of Medicine.