Children used in peanut allergy study

Mikey Walsh

Credit: Wikipedia

A new study on a new skin patch for peanut allergies has shown promising signs of increasing tolerance to peanuts.

The trial, which was conducted over 31 centres across five countries, involved over 350 children between the ages of four and 11.

The study was carried out by Dr. Aideen Byrne the National Clinical Research Centre (NCRC) in Dublin and by Professor Jonathan O’Hourihane at the INFANT Centre and HRB Clinical Research Facility in University College Cork.

“Peanut allergy is the most common persistent food allergy and has a huge impact on the lives of affected children and their families,” said Dr Byrne.

The children, who had previously tested positive for a peanut allergy, were given either a patch containing small amounts of peanut allergen or a placebo.

The children were instructed to wear the specially designed epicutaneous patch every day for a year.

The results of the study have shown that not all children had responded to the patch but some were able to tolerate more peanut than before the study had began.

About one third of the children in the study showed signs of benefiting from use of the patch and have a lessening response to peanut allergic reactions.

“The benefit of this skin patch treatment is that it is that it is safe and well tolerated. It is anticipated that it will play an important role in the treatment of peanut allergy in the future,” said Dr Byrne.

At the end of the study about half of the children were subsequently able to tolerate the equivalent of between one and four peanuts.

Dr Byrne welcomed the results of the new study and said that is a great development for those afflicted with a peanut allergy despite two thirds of the children not having any reaction to the testing.

For safety, children with severe peanut allergies were not included in the trial if they were at risk of life threatening reactions.

The method of building a resistance known as exposure therapy is more effective when done orally but has higher risks of patients going into anaphylactic shock so effectiveness of the patch not causing allergic reaction is maximised through use on the skin.

Roughly 1 per cent of people worldwide suffer from peanut allergies and the number is growing with the prevalence of he allergy nearly doubling between 1997 and 2002.

It is estimated that in Ireland, about 20,000 people suffer from peanut allergies.

Head of Communications, Fiona O’Malley, at the CMRF Crumlin, best way to find gentler treatments, faster diagnoses and someday cures for childhood illnesses and allergies is by funding medical research programmes.

Experts predict that the level of allergen sufferers will continue to rise and by 2025 about half of the entire EU population will suffer from and allergy.

Failure to prevent chronic allergic disease costs the EU between €55 billion and €151 per annum according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction where the body overreacts to allergen which can cause swelling, nausea, vomiting and red itchy skin and can be fatal if not treated correctly.

Currently, the patch is not licensed for use outside of a research setting and more research is needed to be carried out to give more information of the benefits of the patch.

Mikey Walsh

Image Credit: Wikipedia