Skin patch may help with peanut allergy

A wearable patch that delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin shows promise for treating children and young adults with peanut allergy.

The patch delivers tiny amounts of peanut protein through the skin, which trains the immune system to tolerate an accidental exposure to peanuts.

After one year of treatment, the research team assessed each participant's ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than he or she was able to before the experiment.

A new trial found the Viaskin patch is safe and well tolerated by kids and teens - and works best in the under 12 age group.

Biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies developed and provided the "Viaskin" patches, which were provided to the participants each day, to be applied to their arm or between their shoulder blades.

Researchers hope this creates a way for more effective treatment of peanut allergies in young children.

One of the most frustrating aspects of food allergies is how notoriously hard they are to treat.

The treatment was successful for 46% of the low-dose group and 48% of the high-dose group. The clinical trial has focused on volunteers with peanut allergies from 4-25 years of age.

The researchers also note that the peanut skin patches triggered immune responses similar to those seen in other types of experimental immunotherapy for food allergy. For instance, following last year's publication of results from a randomized controlled trial of over 600 children, experts in the USA have issued interim guidance on early peanut introduction and the prevention of peanut allergy in high-risk infants.

"Other recent advances have relied on an oral route that appears hard for approximately 10 to 15 per cent of children and adults to tolerate". For now, participants in the current study will all transition to using high-dose patches daily until the study ends. Those who were given a placebo patch only saw a 12 percent success rate. Marshall Plaut, chief of DAIT's Food Allergy, Atopic Dermatitis and Allergic Mechanisms Section, added: "The high adherence to the daily peanut patch regimen suggests that the patch is easy-to-use, convenient and safe". The greatest improvement was seen in children between the ages of 4 to 11, the authors note. The treatment, called epicutaneous immunotherapy or EPIT, was safe and well-tolerated, and almost all participants used the skin patch daily as directed.

No serious reactions to the patch were reported, Plaut said. Even if someone with peanut allergy only ingests a little of the food, the reaction can be severe.

The patch treatment that scientists are testing is known as epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT). They are all now being moved up to high-dose patches, which they will continue to test for another year and a half.

  • Aubrey Nash