Skin patch may help treat peanut allergies
Researchers with the Consortium of Food Allergy Research published a study on the safety and efficacy of an epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), or the peanut patch. In the double-blinded and randomized study, 74 participants with peanut allergy were given one of three treatments – placebo, or 100 mcg peanut protein or 250 mcg peanut protein (both in a patch).
At the end of the study, they found that 46 to 48 percent of participants had an increased tolerance of peanuts, as compared to 12 percent in the placebo group. The study showed that the patch was not entirely successful at establishing tolerance to peanuts, but there was improvement in the amount of peanut that was tolerated by participants. Plus, allergic reactions to the peanut protein were minimal.*
Moving forward, more research is needed to determine whether or not the patch will be useful for peanut allergy treatment.
Controlled peanut exposure could help peanut tolerance
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is one of the most promising research fields in providing aid to those with peanut allergy. Oral immunotherapy seeks to desensitize the patient to their allergen by providing small, daily doses of the allergen. In theory, the body will eventually recognize the daily dose of allergen as no longer foreign.
In August 2016, a study was conducted to test the safety and effectiveness of OIT. Dr. Brian P. Vickery, assistant professor of pediatrics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led the study, which included 40 infants and toddlers (9 to 36 months old) with peanut allergy. They received low doses (300mg) or high doses (3,000 mg) of peanut protein each day for at least one year. By the end of the treatment, 81 percent of children were desensitized to peanut protein, including 85 percent of the low-dose group and 76 percent of the high-dose group. Although more OIT studies are still necessary and underway, this study suggests OIT may be more easily and durably corrected in young children with peanut allergies.**
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is another form of immunotherapy. This process, while less well-studied than OIT, involves placing a daily peanut extract under the patient’s tongue; the dosage is increased gradually over time. Get more information on SLIT.
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have developed a Chinese herbal medicine (FAHF-2) that may prevent life-threatening reactions to food allergies. The results of the phase 1 clinical trial, published in July 2010, suggest the formula is safe and well-tolerated by people with food allergies. Phase 2 of the study is currently underway. Get more information on alternative treatments.
*Jones S, et al. Epicutaneous Immunotherapy for the treatment of peanut allergy in children and young adults. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016. Dos: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2016.08.017.
**Vickery, B, et al. Early oral immunotherapy in peanut-allergic preschool children is safe and highly effective. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016. Dos: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2016.05.027.