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Skin patch may help children with peanut allergy, study suggests

Skin patch may help children with peanut allergy, study suggests

However, an ongoing study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) may have an answer for those suffering from a peanut allergy: A patch called epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), which delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin, slowly strengthening the immune system against accidental peanut exposure.

At the end of the year, each participant's ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than before the EPIT was assessed. Every day the participants put on a new patch either on their arm or between their shoulder blades. In western cultures, peanut allergies are the leading cause of food-related anaphylaxis death.

Visit Food Allergy Research & Education for more on peanut allergy.

Currently, there is no cure for food allergies. Individuals with the low-dose and high-dose patches experienced similar benefits, with 46 per cent and 48 per cent of volunteers experiencing success (respectively). Details of the one-year clinical trial were published today at the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The treatment, called epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), worked just as well as other forms of experimental immunotherapies for allergies, but without needing to rely on oral intake - a form of therapy that's hard for about 10 to 15 per cent of children and adults with peanut allergies. For instance, following last year's publication of results from a randomized controlled trial of over 600 children, experts in the US have issued interim guidance on early peanut introduction and the prevention of peanut allergy in high-risk infants.

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Other research groups are giving kids oral doses of peanuts or peanut protein to try and help them develop tolerance, but not all children do well, said NIAID's Dr. Daniel Rotrosen. The treatment, called epicutaneous immunotherapy or EPIT, was safe and well-tolerated, and almost all participants used the skin patch daily as directed. The greatest improvement was seen in children between the ages of 4 to 11, the authors note. Most of the participants followed the treatment regimen as directed, and no serious adverse events were reported. These participants used one of three different patches with one being a low dose 100 micrograms patch, high dose 250 microgram patch, or a placebo patch.

"The high adherence to the daily peanut patch regimen suggests that the patch is easy-to-use, convenient and safe", said Marshall Plaut, chief of DAIT's Food Allergy, Atopic Dermatitis and Allergic Mechanisms Section.

Additional studies in larger groups of children are needed before the therapy could be approved for wider use.

"The results of this study support further investigation of epicutaneous immunotherapy as a novel approach for peanut allergy treatment". DBV Technologies hopes to continue the study in pursuit of eventual Food and Drug Administra-tion (FDA) approval, with an eye on producing similar treatments for those with milk and egg allergies.

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