By Sean Zucker –
Peanut allergies are one of the most common and physically detrimental allergies for children. Worse yet, they are on the rise. There was a 21 percent jump in these allergies between 2010 and 2017, according to The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Today, the ACAAI estimates that as much as two and a half percent of U.S. children suffer from this problem.
This allergen isn’t only common and growing; it can be fatal since it brings about anaphylaxis, a sudden and drastic allergic reaction. A new device, however, provides hope for some relief, especially for young children.
Researchers at the French biopharmaceutical firm DBV Technologies have developed a skin patch, dubbed the Viaskin Peanut patch aims to combat the common allergen in toddlers. It is especially significant since the ACAAI notes that the most effective allergy treatments are not typically available for those under four.
“I see peanut-allergic patients in my clinical practice daily. I speak with parents who are experiencing increased anxiety and a decreased quality of life due to fear of life-threatening reactions,” said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt of Children’s Hospital Colorado,
Greenhawt led a recent study examining the Viaskin patch and declared that it showed promise for widespread issues.
“The Viaskin Peanut patch has the potential to give new hope to toddlers and their families who currently have no approved treatment options and must instead rely on avoidance which can severely impact the quality of life,” he reported.
The patch is akin to a vaccine, offering toddlers limited exposure to help build resistance. It includes 250 micrograms of peanut protein, roughly equivalent to about one-thousandth of one regularly sized peanut.
The Greenhawt study examined 362 toddlers from eight countries with known peanut allergies to determine their effectiveness. Each child wore a patch between their shoulder blades every day for a year. Selected at random, 244 were given the Viaskin Peanut patch, and 118 were given a placebo patch.
Following the 12-month trial period, the researchers found that two-thirds of those given the Viaskin patch could tolerate at least 1,000 milligrams of peanut protein, the equivalent of three to four peanuts. In comparison, only one-third of the placebo group could handle that amount. The majority of participants did experience some minor side effects, mostly redness and irritation around the shoulder blades where the patch rested. These generally subsided after three months of wearing the patch.
The results drew praise and support from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding long-term solutions for asthma and food allergies.
“Caregivers need a treatment option that provides peace of mind for them and their children. I am excited by this innovative potential treatment option and hopeful that one day toddlers with peanut allergy will have multiple treatment options to choose from,” announced the foundation’s CEO, Kenneth Mendez, in a prepared statement.
Despite the work and praise, the Viaskin patch is not a cure for peanut allergies. It may, however, eventually help desensitize young children at risk, lowering the chance they’ll develop anaphylaxis.