Nearly 15 million people suffer from food allergies in the United States alone. Of them, around 1.5 million children exhibit severe, and sometimes life-threatening, allergic reactions to peanuts. As part of a recent research, a team of French scientists has developed a special patch that could potentially cure peanut allergies, if used long enough. What is more, it will soon be up for FDA approval, following phase 3 clinical trials.
Developed by researchers at France-based biotechnology company, DBV Technologies, the patch is the first of its kind to treat severe peanut allergies through what is known as “epicutaneous immunotherapy”. The technology, according to the scientists, centers on the delivery of immune-system-targeting drugs through the patient’s skin. Each of these special patches comes with a tiny sprayed-on sample of peanut protein. Every time the patch is applied, a small amount of the protein gets absorbed through the skin, without actually entering the user’s blood stream.
As a result, the contraption does not cause any kind of allergic reaction in the patient. When worn continuously for around a year, the patch can ameliorate your peanut allergy problem, to the extent that you can safely consume small amounts of otherwise-dangerous allergen. According to the company’s chief operating officer David Schilansky, a person, who can’t even eat 1/10th of a single peanut without inducing allergy attacks, could ideally consume a handful after few years of using the patch daily. Speaking about the breakthrough, Schilansky said:
When you cannot afford more than a 10th of a peanut that’s really progress.
The new technology great differs from the traditional methods of treating food allergies, which focus on the process of “desensitisation”, where the patient’s system is gradually introduced to small amounts of the allergen through direct ingestion. Although effective some times, this technique can often cause severe allergic reactions that in turn spread throughout the body via the person’s blood stream. Conventionally, allergy treatments involve management of the specific symptons, such as the use of antihistamines or even shots in more severe cases.
In the US, one in every 13 children (below 18 years of age) is affected with some form of food allergy. To help youngsters deal with the serious condition, the researchers are currently studying the effects the patch has on kids aged between four and eleven. The company CEO Pierre-Henri Benhamou believes that the technology would offer parents a much-needed peace of mind in knowing that their children won’t have extreme allergic reactions when exposed to peanuts.
As Benhamou points out, the company will soon start working on patches for other food allergies, including milk and eggs, and even non-food allergies, like those connected to asthma. The peanut allergy patch is currently undergoing phase 3 trials involving over 330 children in five different countries.
Via: Business Insider