There might be good news for the 3.2 million Americans who have a peanut allergy. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) sponsored an ongoing trial of different experimental approaches for peanut tolerance. One of the experiments involved epicutaneous immunotherapy, used to increase the immune system’s tolerance against peanuts and thereby protect your little ones in the event of accidental ingestion or exposure. In a nutshell, there’s a new skin patch that is proving effective against the symptoms of peanut allergies, particularly for children.
This news brings hope to parents of children with a peanut allergy who have to be ever so careful of what foods their kids eat, how food is prepared, and even their surroundings. Anaphylaxis is life-threatening, so this new “Viaskin patch“ may be the major breakthrough that could potentially save your child’s life—or simply improve your family’s quality of life. It could mean less worrying about what’s being served at playdates, sleepovers, and school. And it could mean being able to live a little bit more carefree in general.
Peanut Allergy, Be Gone!
The study distributed low dose, high dose, and placebo patches among 74 peanut-allergic volunteers ranging from age 4 to 25 years. The participants applied a new patch to their arm or between their shoulder blades daily to allow small amounts of peanut protein to enter the skin. The results were promising. Not only was the patch proven safe, but after one year, close to half of the participants (not given the placebo patch) were able to consume at least ten times more peanut protein than before they used the patch, with greater benefits for younger children.
The patches also induced immune responses similar to those seen with other investigational forms of immunotherapy for food allergies, but the patch has shown fewer side effects, particularly for children between ages 4 and 11 years. While oral forms of immunotherapy have proven less tolerable, the skin patch has not produced any serious reactions—only minor rashes and itching reported by the participants.
Given the increasing costs of the Epi-pen, this new discovery in allergy medication will hopefully provide parents with a more affordable, proactive solution that will protect their children against a life-threatening condition. And hopefully, this is the breakthrough for treatment of many other types of allergic reactions as well.
The product has not yet been approved by the FDA and before therapy can be approved for wider use, additional studies must be conducted, including a long-term safety assessment of peanut epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT).
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