Health Care

New Patch May Help Kids with Peanut Allergies

New Patch May Help Kids with Peanut Allergies

Delivering small doses of peanut protein through a wearable skin patch may help kids suffering from peanut allergies. Rather, those who use a peanut patch are "hopefully protected from accidental exposure" to peanuts.

That's very different from the way allergies are typically treated in practice: Before this immunotherapy method, the only way to lessen an allergic reaction was through "desensitization", a process in which you gradually introduce small amounts of the allergen into your body, in the case of peanut allergies, by eating the peanut outright. A new study says a peanut patch may help reduce the severity of your child's reaction. "As opposed previously, when they could only take a tenth of a peanut and they would have anaphylaxis".

Dr. Stacie Jones applies a peanut patch to a clinical trial participant at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Researchers report that 48 percent of high-dose patients and 46 percent of low-dose patients achieved treatment success, which is defined as the person's ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than they could before starting the trial.

After establishing an allergy baseline, the participants were given quarter-size patches on the insides of their upper arms for adolescents, or on their backs for younger kids. The peanut proteins used did not enter the bloodstream.

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According to Dr. Daniel Rotrosen from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, training the immune system of the skin to tolerate small amounts of peanuts is how the therapy works.

In the trial, the EPIT patch was more effective on participants between the ages of 4 and 11.

Researchers studied the effects of the EPIT patch on 74 people, between the ages of 4 and 25, with peanut allergies. "They have to (use the patch) every day, or they might become intolerant", Shih said.

The EPIT study has shown promising results after its first year, but research is ongoing.

"It's definitely not a cure, but I think it gives us a lot of information", said Cho.