May 30, 2011
Pediatricians Develop Peanut Allergy Patch
Pediatricians have developed a revolutionary skin patch that may cure thousands from the deadly peanut allergy.
Researchers believe it presents one of the best possible ways of finding an effective treatment for a life threatening reaction to peanuts.
Two pediatricians who developed the device said it will educate the body so it does not over-react to peanut exposure.
Human safety trials have already started in Europe and the U.S. and it is hoped that the patch could become available within 3 to 4 years.
Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou, one of its two French inventors, said "We envisage that the patch would be worn daily for several years and would slowly reduce the severity of accidental exposure to peanut."
About 500,000 children and adults are diagnosed with a peanut allergy.
The allergy is caused by a faulty immune system which causes danger to the body by over-reacting to what it believes is a threat to the body.
Even the smallest amount of peanut can trigger a dangerous reaction known as anaphylactic shock, which triggers inflammation of the airways and causes breathing to stop.
Patients with allergy to peanuts are normally so allergic that routine methods used to treat other allergies, like hay fever, are too dangerous.
Dr Benhamou, a senior consultant at St Vincent de Paul Hospital in Paris, said: "The beauty of the patch is that it is absorbed just under the skin and is taken up by the immune system."
"But because it doesn't go directly into the bloodstream there is no risk of a severe reaction."
"We have carried out a number of small safety trials and now moving to trials that will establish the size of the dose needed and for how long the patch would need to be worn. We would think maybe for three to four years," he said in a statement.
The two believe that after about a year of wearing the patch, patients may be cured of a severe life threatening reaction to peanut.
However, it would need to be worn for several more years before a nut allergy sufferer could safely be exposed to peanuts.
Benhamou said: "At best we are talking about a sufferer eventually being able to eat modest amounts of peanut without a reaction."
"But what we want to do most is to eliminate the severe reaction that occurs when people are exposed to the tiniest speck of peanut."
The company has also established a patch that can tackle milk allergy, which has helped hundreds of people.
Professor Gideon Lack of St Mary, one of the UKs leading nut allergy experts, is advising DBV Technologies, the company developing the peanut allergy patch.
"It is a clever approach to dealing with the problem and there is a reasonable prospect of success," he said in a statement.
"At present thousands of lives are blighted by the daily fear that accidental exposure could prove fatal. It puts an intolerable strain on families.
"It would be fantastic if we reached the stage that previously severely allergic patients could tolerate eating peanut."
"But I reckon most parents with allergic children would just settle for knowing that exposure to small amounts of protein would no longer be life threatening."
Lack has been involved in ground-breaking trials to see if early childhood exposure to peanut could reduce the risk.
Evidence from countries like Israel suggests that toddlers exposed to peanuts in the first few years of life are less likely to become allergic.
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