Is there a patch for skin allergy to peanuts?
Washington, D.C. Toddlers with severe peanut allergies may benefit from an experimental skin patch that prepares their bodies for an unintentional bite.
One of the most prevalent and harmful food allergies is peanut allergy. Parents of children with allergies are always on the lookout for exposures that might transform play dates and birthday celebrations into trips to the ER.
No treatment exists. The sole remedy is a specific peanut powder that may be consumed by kids 4 and older to guard against a serious response.
Instead, the Viaskin patch seeks to give that type of therapy via the skin. Researchers announced Wednesday that in a large test with children aged 1 to 3, it allowed those who couldn’t stomach even a small part of a peanut to finally comfortably consume a few.
If further research is successful, “this would fill a huge unmet need,” according to Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, an allergist at Children’s Hospital Colorado who assisted in the study’s direction.
About 2% of children in the United States have peanut allergies, and for some of them, even a small quantity can result in a potentially fatal reaction. Their immune system overreacts to meals containing peanuts, setting off a chain reaction of inflammatory symptoms like hives and asthma or even worse. Some children outgrow the allergy, but the majority must avoid peanuts for the rest of their lives and carry emergency treatment in case they mistakenly consume some.
The Food and Drug Administration authorised Palforzia, a “oral immunotherapy,” in 2020. Children between the ages of 4 and 17 should take it every day to maintain the protection. Palforzia from Aimmune Therapeutics is also being studied on young children.
Skin-based immunotherapy is being pursued by France’s DBV Technologies as an alternate method to desensitise the body to allergens.
A little quantity of peanut protein is applied to the Viaskin patch and is then absorbed by the skin. Every day, a patch is worn between the shoulder blades, out of reach of young children.
To determine how much peanut protein 362 children with peanut allergies might handle, the current study first evaluated them. The Viaskin patch or a fake patch with a similar appearance was then given to them at random to wear each day.
When they were retested after a year of therapy, researchers found that almost two-thirds of the kids who used the genuine patch could safely consume more peanuts, the equivalent of three to four.
In comparison, only approximately a third of children who received the fake patches. According to Greenhawt, these probably include kids who are growing out of the allergy.
Concerning safety, an allergic response known as anaphylaxis was reported in four Viaskin users, and it was determined that the patch was to blame. One participant left the research after receiving epinephrine treatment for three to calm the response. During the trial, some kids inadvertently consumed items containing peanuts, and researchers found that Viaskin users experienced allergic responses less frequently than those wearing sham patches. Skin discomfort at the patch location was the most frequent adverse reaction.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported the findings.
The outcomes “are very good news for toddlers and their families as the next step towards a future with more treatments for food allergies,” said Dr. Alkis Togias of the National Institutes of Health in an editorial that was published with the study but wasn’t a part of it.
Togias emphasized that it is too soon to draw comparisons between oral and topical therapies, but he also cited research indicating that each may have unique benefits and drawbacks, raising the prospect that oral medication may be more potent but also carry greater risks.
For many years, DBV Technologies has tried to get the peanut patch on the market. The business said last month that the FDA needs more information on child safety, and a different trial is already following lengthier therapy. A research with kids aged 4 to 7 is also under progress.