A new skin patch promises to protect kids with peanut allergies from deadly accidents.
The results of an ongoing trial show that, after a year wearing the epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT) patch, half of the patch-wearing participants could consume 10 times more peanut protein than before.
EPIT works by delivering an antigen through the skin, which induces the wearer's immune system to produce antibodies. The technology is from the pharmaceutical company DBV Technologies, which is also responsible for these trials. The EPIT peanut patches are as yet not FDA approved. In the trials, the peanut patches induced much the same reactions as other immunotherapy methods, and while none of the participants reported serious reactions to the patch, the researchers wrote, "most experienced mild skin reactions, such as itching or rash, at the site of patch application." The active component of the patch is extracted from real peanuts.
Still, an itchy patch may be a lot better than dying because you accidentally ate a scrap of peanut. The study is encouraging, because it promises a future where kids can wear what are effectively prophylactic patches to protect them from deadly mistakes. It's hard enough for an adult to successfully avoid all peanut traces, let alone for children. This is a small-scale trial though, conducted by the makers of the patch itself, so there's a long way to go before we see FDA approval.
In fact, it's actually another aspect of the trial that might prove more interesting—the adherence rate was through the roof. After 52 weeks, 97% of expected doses had been administered. During the year, just one participant dropped out, due to a skin reaction. That means that, even among kids as young as 4 years old (the age range of the study was 4-25 years), nobody was tearing off the patches or refusing treatment. That means that this kind of medication is ideal for treating kids. Even with the itching, it's set-and-forget. Given the downsides of coming off the treatment, that might be the most important feature of these peanut patches.