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Skin patch may help children with peanut allergy, study suggests

By Ryan Maass
Scientists are confident peanut allergies can be successfully treated using a wearable patch. Photo by HandmadePictures/Shutterstock
Scientists are confident peanut allergies can be successfully treated using a wearable patch. Photo by HandmadePictures/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Research supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health suggests a wearable patch can successfully treat peanut allergies in children.

The patch, developed by biopharmaceutical manufacturer DBV Technologies, delivers small amounts of a peanut protein through the skin. Through this process, which researchers refer to as epicutaneous immunotherapy, patients are trained to build up a tolerance to the substance.

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The study was conducted by a collaboration of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Consortium of Food Allergy Research. The results of the ongoing trial have been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"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," NIAID director Anthony Fauci explained in a press release. "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."

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Researchers at five study sites tested high-dose, low-dose, and placebo dose patches on 74 volunteers with peanut allergies between the ages of 4 and 25. The dosages were randomly assigned, and were applied each day on the arm or between the shoulder blades.

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After one year of treatment, the research team assessed each participant's ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than he or she was able to before the experiment. The low-dose and high-dose groups were found to have a 46 and 48 percent success rate, respectively, compared to 12 percent for the placebo group.

"The high adherence to the daily peanut patch regimen suggests that the patch is easy-to-use, convenient and safe," NIAID official Marshal Plaut said. "The results of this study support further investigation of epicutaneous immunotherapy as a novel approach for peanut allergy treatment."

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