"Peanut patch" may save some lives

The Viaskin Peanut skin patch(Credit: DBV Technologies)

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, more children are allergic to peanuts than to any other food. Unfortunately, the reactions can be lethal. In western cultures, peanut allergies are the leading cause of food-related anaphylaxis death. Needless to say, therefore, people with such allergies need to be protected against exposure to the nuts – and a skin patch may help provide that protection.

Made by biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies, the Viaskin Peanut patch is applied to the arm or between the shoulder blades. It gradually delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin, allowing the wearer's body to build up a tolerance for it.

The patch is currently the subject of an ongoing American study conducted by the Consortium of Food Allergy Research, and funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

So far, 74 peanut-allergic volunteers aged 4 to 25 years have received the patches, at five study sites. Each person was unknowingly given either a 250-mg high-dose patch, a 100-mg low-dose patch, or a placebo. All of the volunteers applied a new patch each day, and were recently tested after having done so for a one-year period.

It was found that 48 percent of the high-dose group and 46 percent of the low-dose group were successfully able to ingest at least 10 times more peanut protein than they could before the trial, without suffering any allergic reactions – children aged 4 to 11 did particularly well. The placebo group, by contrast, scored 12 percent.

None of the volunteers reported any negative reactions to the treatment, apart from some skin irritation beneath the patch. They are all now being moved up to high-dose patches, which they will continue to test for another year and a half.

It should be noted that the Viaskin Peanut patch has not yet received FDA approval. Additionally, it's intended more to guard against occasional accidental exposure to peanuts, than to allow users to go ahead and chow down on the things.

A paper on the research was recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Top stories

Recommended for you

Latest in Health & Wellbeing

Editors Choice