We’re always hearing of new ways to reduce the body’s reaction to allergens. Whether we’re talking about allergy shots for bee stings, drinking certain teas for hay fever or a new prescription medicine with less side effects, we hear of them. However, it seems we’re still waiting for something effective for food allergies.
Maybe our wait is over. The latest is a skin patch that may cure peanut allergies. Two French pediatricians are working on this patch in hopes of finding a cure for those that suffer from deadly peanut allergies. The patch will re-educate the body so it will no longer over react to peanut exposure. Currently, the patch is being tried on people in Europe and the United States. It works by releasing small doses of peanut oil under the skin, similar to the way allergy shots release small doses of the allergen into the body. It is a type of reprogramming so the body will not go into such severe reactions.
One of the researchers and inventors, Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou, a senior consultant at Saint-Vincent de Paul hospital in Paris, told the Daily Mail: “We envisage that the patch would be worn daily for several years and would slowly reduce the severity of accidental exposure to peanuts. Because it is not going straight to the blood stream, there is not the risk of a severe reaction. Even by wearing a year could reduce the possibility of a life threatening reaction.”
If trials go as expected, it is hopeful that the patch could be on the market within a few years. Some human trials have already been conducted and seen success. Current tests are being done to determine the size of the dose and how long the patch will need to be worn for optimum effectiveness.
According to Dr. Benhamou, “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.”
Many people are at such great risk from peanut allergy that they are limited to where they can go and must avoid places like planes and baseball parks. Even though they may not be able to actually eat substantial amounts of peanuts or peanut butter after wearing the patch, they won’t be at such a risk if a trace is ingested by accident. Other methods that are used to treat other allergies, like shots for insects or hay fever, are not feasible as some peanut allergy sufferers are far too allergic.
Though most people with peanut allergies are not so severe that a trace in food or oil on the skin will send them into anaphylactic shock, enough are so that it is a very dangerous and worrisome condition. If people could be more confident that if they were to have a reaction, it would be mild, they could maintain a different lifestyle with much less worry. Parents could use the patch on their children from the beginning and by the time children are on their own more, the allergy could be much less severe.
It will be interesting to watch the development of this patch and hopefully it will soon be a viable treatment for those with peanut allergies. According to the researchers, this will be available for milk allergies as well.