A patch may be the answer for peanut allergy sufferers, according to results from a trial conducted by the Consortium of Food Allergy Research, which is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Peanut allergies are among the most common of food allergies, researchers have developed a patch that goes beyond oral immunotherapy, the latter of which involves eating small amounts of peanut butter to decrease allergy sensitivity but often causes adverse reactions, according to an NIH press release.
“Researchers have begun testing another approach called epicutaneous (on the skin) immunotherapy, or EPIT,” the press release stated. “A phase 1 study previously demonstrated the safety and tolerability of a wearable patch developed by DBV Technologies. The patch, named Viaskin, delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin.”
The trial recruited 74 peanut-allergic volunteers ranging in ages from 4 to 25. The patients received either a high dose (250 micrograms of peanut protein), a low dose (100 micrograms of peanut protein), or a placebo at one of five university-based medical centers across the United States.
Each day, they applied a new patch to an arm or between their shoulder blades. Researchers examined the results after a year, with success being defined as the ability to eat at least 10 times more peanut protein than they could before starting EPIT.
“Peanut allergies have lifelong effects and are often associated with psychological traumas, including fear of eating, antisocial behavior and anxiety.”
Results showed that “low-dose and high-dose regimens offered similar benefits (46% and 48% success, respectively, compared with 12% in the placebo group),” according to the release. “Treatment success was higher among the younger children, ages 4 to 11 years, than the older ones, where there was minimal benefit.”
According to the researchers who published the study Oct. 26 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, “peanut EPIT administration was safe and associated with a modest treatment response after 52 weeks, with the highest responses among younger children. This, when coupled with a high adherence and retention rate and significant changes in immune pathways, supports further investigation of this novel therapy.”
Peanut allergy occurs in 1 to 2% of the population in the U.S. and other Western countries, according to the study description on ClinicalTrials.gov.
DBV Technologies, the manufacturer of the Viaskin Peanut patch, states on its website that “food allergies, mainly peanut, are responsible for 150 to 200 deaths every year in the United States and more than 125,000 emergency room visits.”
Because of the fact that trace amounts of peanut may be found in many prepared foods and severe allergies can cause anaphylactic shock, peanut allergy sufferers tend to have low quality of life, the website stated.
“Peanut allergies have lifelong effects and are often associated with psychological traumas, including fear of eating, antisocial behavior and anxiety,” the DBV Technologies website stated. “Allergy to peanuts appears to be on the rise and its prevalence has increased in the past 10 years.”
DBV Technologies, based in France, also manufacturers patches for milk and egg allergies.