An experimental skin patch promises to treat toddlers with severe peanut allergies – by training their bodies to cope with the occasional bite.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common and dangerous food allergies. Parents of children with allergies are constantly on the lookout for exposure that can turn a birthday party or date night into an emergency room appointment.

There is no treatment. The only treatment is for children 4 years of age and older, who can use a special peanut powder to protect against a serious reaction.

A patch called Viaskin aims to deliver this kind of treatment through the skin. In a serious test with 1- to 3-year-olds, it helped those who were intolerant to even a small amount of peanuts eventually safely eat a few, researchers reported Wednesday.

If the additional testing is successful, “it will fill a huge unmet need,” said Dr. Matthew Greenhout, an allergist at Children’s Hospital Colorado who helped lead the study.

About 2% of children in the US are allergic to peanuts, some so severe that even a small amount can cause a life-threatening reaction. Their immune systems overreact to foods containing peanuts, triggering an inflammatory cascade that causes hives, wheezing, or worse. Some young people outgrow their allergies, but most will have to avoid peanuts for life and carry rescue medication to prevent a severe reaction if they accidentally ingest peanuts.

In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment to improve peanut tolerance, an “oral immunotherapy” called Palforzia that children ages 4 to 17 take daily to maintain protection. Aimmune Therapeutics’ Palforzia is also being tested in toddlers.

The French company DBV Technologies uses skin immunotherapy as an alternative way of desensitizing the body to allergens.

The Viaskin patch is coated with a small amount of peanut protein that is absorbed into the skin. The daily tie is worn between the shoulder blades, where the little ones cannot pull it off.

In the new study, 362 peanut-allergic toddlers were first tested to see how high a dose of peanut protein they could tolerate. They were then randomly assigned to use a Vyaskin patch or a similar patch every day.

The researchers concluded that when they were retested after a year of treatment, about two-thirds of the toddlers who used the real patch could safely swallow more peanuts, the equivalent of three to four.

This compares with a third of young adults who received sham patches. Greenhout said they likely include children who outgrow their allergies.

Regarding safety, four patients who received Viaskin experienced an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which was found to be related to the patch. Three were treated with epinephrine to calm the reaction and one dropped out of the study.

During the study, some teenagers also accidentally ate products containing peanuts, and the researchers said Viaskin users had fewer allergic reactions than those wearing sham patches. The most common side effect was skin irritation at the patch site.

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The results are very good news for toddlers and their families as the next step toward a future with more treatments for food allergies,” wrote Dr. Alkis Togias of the National Institutes of Health, who was not involved in the study. accompanying editorial.

Togias cautioned that it’s too early to compare oral and skin treatments, but pointed to data suggesting each may have different pros and cons — raising the possibility that oral therapy may be more powerful, but also cause more side effects.

DBV Technologies has been struggling to bring the peanut patch to market for several years. The company announced last month that the FDA was requesting additional safety data for toddlers, and a separate study is already tracking long-term treatment. A study of children aged 4-7 years is also being conducted.

Previous articleActress Jacqueline Zeman died at the age of 70
Next articleSuspect in north Columbus shooting arrested