A viable treatment for people who suffer from a peanut allergy could be right around the corner and as easy as wearing a patch similar to the ones worn by former smokers. The Viaskin "Peanut Patch" could end the immune system's life-threatening response to peanut protein by introducing trace amounts into the outer layer of skin.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology's data, around two million people in the United States are affected by a peanut allergy making it the most widespread Food Allergy across the country. Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut protein, is a major contributor to the 100,000 emergency room visits nationwide.
The Peanut Patch, formulated by the food allergy treatment company DBV Technologies, emits small amounts of peanut protein into the outer layer of the skin, eventually making contact with the immune system. Over time, as more and more peanut protein is introduced into the body, desensitization will make the immune system used to the allergen.
Marketed as the first peanut desensitization product ever developed for peanut allergies, the Viaskin Peanut Patch implores DBV's peanut specific Epicutaneous Immotherapy Method (EPIT) technology. EPIT technology was specifically designed by DBV scientists to administer the correct amount of a peanut protein.
In June 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave DBV Technologies its Investigation New Drug application (IND) to begin clinical testing on the experimental treatment patch. Experts from DBV have recently concluded the first-stage clinical testing on 200 willing participants with debilitating peanut allergies.
Approximately 20 percent of patients between the ages of five to 17 were able to handle ten times the amount of peanut protein after wearing the patch for a little over 12 months. The severity of this allergy varies by individual, although some patients involved with this study were reportedly unable to be in the same room as a food containing peanut, the Daily Mail reported.
Further studies on the Viaskin Peanut Patch were conducted by a team of researchers from National Jewish Health headed up by pediatric allergist David Fleischer, M.D. "We currently treat food allergy using oral immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy or drops under the tongue," Fleischer stated on Psych.org.
"But if this patch proves successful, it would likely be a much more convenient treatment option for patients and their families."