Skin Patch to Treat Peanut Allergy Shows Benefit in Children

 

According to an article published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (26 October 2016), a wearable patch that delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin showed promise for treating children and young adults with peanut allergy, with greater benefits for younger children. According to the article, the treatment, called epicutaneous immunotherapy or EPIT, was found safe and well-tolerated, and nearly all participants used the skin patch daily as directed.

 

According to the NIH, to avoid potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, people with peanut allergy must be vigilant about the foods they eat and the environments they enter, which can be very stressful. Therefore, one goal of experimental approaches such as epicutaneous immunotherapy is to reduce this burden by training the immune system to tolerate enough peanut to protect against accidental ingestion or exposure.

 

The study, which was performed at 5 clinical research sites, randomly assigned 74 peanut-allergic volunteers aged 4 to 25 years to treatment with either a high-dose (250 micrograms peanut protein), low-dose (100 micrograms peanut protein), or placebo patch. The investigators assessed peanut allergy at the beginning of the study with a supervised, oral food challenge with peanut-containing food. The patches were developed and provided by the biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies under the trade name Viaskin. Each day, study participants applied a new patch to their arm or between their shoulder blades.

 

After one year, the team assessed each participant’s ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than he or she was able to consume before starting EPIT. The low-dose and high-dose regimens offered similar benefits, with 46% of the low-dose group and 48%of the high-dose group achieving treatment success, compared with 12% of the placebo group. In addition, the peanut patches induced immune responses similar to those seen with other investigational forms of immunotherapy for food allergy. Investigators observed greater treatment effects among children aged 4 to 11 years, with significantly less effect in participants aged 12 years and older.

 

Nearly all of the study participants followed the EPIT regimen as directed. None reported serious reactions to the patch, although most experienced mild skin reactions, such as itching or rash, at the site of patch application. Additional studies in larger groups of children are needed before the therapy could be approved for wider use. The study continues to assess the long-term safety and effectiveness of peanut EPIT. After the first year, all participants began receiving high-dose daily patches, and they will continue in the study for a total of two and a half years of EPIT.

 

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