Viaskin peanut patch: hope for a treatment for children’s peanut allergies?

Back in March, I read an article in the New York Times about Dr Kari Nadeau, who is currently carrying out a multiallergy trial, “desensitising” children in respect of more than one food allergen at a time.

The Allergy UK website explains that desensitisation (immunotherapy) “involves the administration of gradually increasing doses of allergen extracts over a period of years”, given either by injection (subcutaneous immunotherapy) or by drops or tablets under the tongue (sublingual immunotherapy). As regards food allergies, the Allergy UK site goes on to state that:

“Early results are promising but this research is still in its infancy and the technique is not widely available”.

Much of the New York Times piece struck a chord with me, but one part which stuck in my mind was the description of the boy who had an anaphylactic reaction when attending hospital for a dose of allergen and had to be given an EpiPen. His mother, the author of the article, initially thought:

“Forget this. My son is not going to be the canary in the coal mine.”

If D were offered the chance to participate in an immunotherapy trial to be desensitised in respect of peanut, would we take it? I’m not sure. Having seen him in intensive care following an anaphylactic reaction to peanut, would we be able to go through with him being given doses of peanut and being knowingly put at risk of life threatening anaphylaxis? But, then, if nobody participates in these trials, a cure will never be found. So hats off to those parents who are brave enough to have their child participate in an immunotherapy trial. Whether or not we would muster the courage to go through with it, I don’t know.

So, on the back of that, when I read the news about the Viaskin peanut patch this week, I was extremely heartened. The stick on patch, which is about the size of a 10p piece, is worn on the arm or the back. It contains tiny amounts of peanut protein, which gradually seep into the skin. The Daily Mail reported that:

“The breakthrough patch, called Viaskin Peanut, does not cause anaphylactic shock because the proteins stay in the skin and do not penetrate as far as the bloodstream.”

Apparently, after 12 months, at least 20 per cent of the children in the trial were able to consume over ten times the amount of peanut protein than they could tolerate previously. After 18 months, this increased to 40%.

In the UK, there are about 200-400,000 peanut allergic people and approximately 1 in 50 children have a peanut allergy. So it looks as if the Viaskin peanut patch is one to watch … and, if the trials are successful, it seems that it could offer a means of desensitisation without the usually associated risk of anaphylaxis during treatment.



    1. Hi Miriam, Thanks for your comment. The Daily Mail article refers to the “first results from one of the trials”, and the Medical Daily article says “Experts from DBV have recently concluded the first-stage clinical testing”. So from that it looks like the trials are at a fairly early stage. I will certainly be looking out for further news on this as it sounds very promising. I will post an update if I spot any further announcements. Louise

  1. My 6 year old son is currently enrolled in the Viaskin peanut patch study. We are going on week 4 and have already noticed improvements how long he can tolerate the patch. DBV is currently in phase IIb of clinical trials, which basically means we are several years away from it being an option (phase IV is FDA approval). Crossing my fingers that this works!

    1. Thanks very much for your comment, Beth – that’s really interesting. I’m guessing if/when the FDA approves the patch, it will also be some time before it’s then approved in the UK. Very best of luck to your son – hope the trial continues to go well! Louise

  2. My now 7 year-old son was a week away from enrolling in this study in Chicago when we were notified his age group had just filled up. While we were disappointed to not be a part of the study, we anxiously await the results and cheer all of the brave families on in this study. Like you, Louise, we carefully weighed the risks and felt this particular treatment offered the lowest risk yet. We hope and pray for great results!

    1. Hi Tiffany, That must have been tough, having gone through making the decision to participate and then to find out it was full. Absolutely – fingers crossed for a successful outcome! Louise

    2. Hi Beth
      Is your son still patching ? How is it going? Thank you for being in the study and sharing how it has been.

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