New treatment shows promise in the treatment of peanut allergies

Author: talkhealth

Date: Jan 2017

A small wearable patch may be the solution peanut allergy sufferers have been looking for. In a press release published by The National Institute of Health Skin, it was found that this new form of treatment called Epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT) showed great promise in helping to treat adults and children with peanut allergies.1

Allergies to peanuts and tree nuts are the most common food allergies in adults and children.2 While children tend to grow out of most allergies, only 20% will grow out of their nut allergies, meaning that 80% of children with peanut allergies will continue to be allergic to peanuts into their adult life.

The patch works by delivering small amounts of peanut protein through the skin, in the hope that this early, long term and minimal exposure will lessen or even eliminate a person’s allergic reaction to peanuts. This treatment was introduced to a small cohort of people, who were required to use the patch daily.

The ongoing trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted by the NIAID-funded Consortium of Food Allergy Research.

The year one results from the ongoing clinical trial showed promise, “Researchers at five study sites randomly assigned 74 peanut-allergic volunteers aged 4 to 25 years to treatment with either a high-dose (250 micrograms peanut protein), low-dose (100 micrograms peanut protein), or placebo patch. The investigators assessed peanut allergy at the beginning of the study with a supervised, oral food challenge with peanut-containing food.

“After one year, researchers assessed each participant’s ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than he or she was able to consume before starting EPIT. The low-dose and high-dose regimens offered similar benefits, with 46% of the low-dose group and 48% of the high-dose group achieving treatment success, compared with 12 percent of the placebo group. Investigators observed greater treatment effects among children aged 4 to 11 years.”

Although this new treatment does not appear to have as great an effect on those who are over the age of 12, it is most certainly a step in the right direction, and it shows great promise for young children who are living with a peanut allergy.

Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID’s Division of Allergy celebrated the progress that had been made due to this new and innovative treatment, “The clinical benefit seen in younger children highlights the promise of this innovative approach to treating peanut allergy.

“Epicutaneous immunotherapy aims to engage the immune system in the skin to train the body to tolerate small amounts of allergen, whereas other recent advances have relied on an oral route that appears difficult for approximately 10 to 15 percent of children and adults to tolerate.”

The possibility that this chronic limiting and life threatening allergy can be eradicated is a very exciting possibility indeed. Although the patch is set to be on a ‘fast track’ for approval, it is likely to be a few years before patients will be able to try this new treatment out themselves.

If you are living with a peanut allergy, and you would like to speak with others about your experiences, please visit our talkallergy forum. Keep in mind our next online clinic which is on all things allergy. If you have any questions or concerns you would like to ask our experts, join us in the clinic from the 1st February 2017.

1. Skin patch to treat peanut allergy shows benefit in children, https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/skin-patch-treat-peanut-allergy-shows-benefit-children, accessed Dec 2016.

2. Peanut and Tree Nut Allergy, https://www.allergyuk.org/peanut-and-tree-nut-allergy/peanut-and-tree-nut-allergy, accessed Dec 2016.

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Last revised: 16 January 2017

Next review: 16 January 2020