A Peanut Allergy Patch Is Making Headway In Trials With Toddlers

A groundbreaking solution called the "peanut patch" is offering hope to toddlers with severe peanut allergies. Known as Viaskin, this experimental patch has undergone a late-stage trial on children between the ages of one and three, and the results are promising. The patch has allowed children who previously couldn't tolerate even a small piece of peanuts to safely consume a few. The findings of this study were recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine, shedding light on a potential breakthrough in the field. Peanut allergies pose a significant risk to many children, affecting approximately 2.5 percent of the child population in the United States. For these children, consuming peanut-containing foods triggers an exaggerated immune response that can lead to a range of symptoms, from hives and wheezing to life-threatening airway obstruction. While around 20 percent of affected children may outgrow their allergy over time, most must avoid peanuts for the rest of their lives and carry injectable epinephrine, such as an EpiPen, as a precautionary measure. Peanut products and traces of peanuts are surprisingly widespread, found in various foods ranging from candies to dipping sauces to ice cream. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for peanut allergies, and the only available treatment is a peanut powder that offers protection against severe reactions in children aged four and above. However, an innovative oral immunotherapy called Palforzia was approved by the FDA in 2020 and is consumed daily by children between the ages of four and 17 to maintain their protection. Ongoing research is also exploring its effectiveness in children under the age of four. DBV Technologies, a company based in France, has developed the Viaskin patch as a skin-based immunotherapy treatment for desensitizing the body, particularly targeting younger children. The trial for this patch involved 362 toddlers from eight countries, with 244 of them randomly assigned to receive the Viaskin patch containing 250 micrograms of peanut protein, equivalent to about 1/1000th of a peanut. The remaining 118 children received a placebo patch. Over the course of a year, the participants wore the patches daily before undergoing screening. The results after one year were impressive, with two-thirds of the children using the patch and one-third of the placebo group meeting the trial's primary endpoint. Children with a milder peanut allergy were able to safely tolerate the equivalent of consuming three or four peanuts, while those with a more severe sensitivity could tolerate the equivalent of one peanut. If further testing proves successful, this breakthrough could address a significant unmet need in the medical community. Matthew Greenhawt, an allergist at Children's Hospital Colorado and one of the study's leaders, expressed his optimism, stating that this innovation has the potential to make a substantial difference in the lives of those affected by peanut allergies.

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