How can 1/1,000th of a peanut help save the lives of people with severe peanut allergies?
A new skin patch that contains 250 micrograms of peanut protein, or 1/1,000th of a peanut, is being tested to help lessen the potentially deadly effects of a peanut allergy, The Washington Post reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no cure for a peanut allergy right now, but it is one of the most common and most dangerous food allergies.
Currently, children 4 and older can use a special peanut powder to lessen a severe reaction, but now a patch, which is called Viaskin, is being tested to deliver the treatment via the skin, The Associated Press reported.
The year-long study first tested 362 toddlers to see how much peanut protein they could tolerate, then they were randomly given either the Viaskin patch or a placebo to be worn each day between the shoulder blades where they could not reach or remove it.
After a year, the children were tested again and about two-thirds of the group could eat the equivalent of three to four peanuts. A third of patients given the placebo were also able to consume peanut protein. Researchers attribute some of that to children outgrowing the allergy, the AP reported.
There were some limitations to the phase three study, including excluding children with severe peanut allergies because of safety concerns and the fact that most of the study participants were white, but the study was “consistent with other food-allergy treatment studies,” the Post reported.
There were some side effects when it came to the peanut patch too, including itching or swelling at the site of the patch and one case of swelling around the eyes. There were also four cases of anaphylactic reactions. Most reactions were determined as mild or moderate, according to the Post.
Researchers said it was too early to compare the oral and patch treatments but that both may have pros and cons, the AP reported.
The study results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.