Wednesday 21 March 2018

'Breakthrough' patch could be a lifesaver for peanut allergy sufferers

Peanuts: New patch could be a breakthrough
Peanuts: New patch could be a breakthrough

Good news for the estimated one-in-100 people in Ireland who suffer an allergy to peanuts, which can be fatal if not treated.

A peanut patch called Viaskin Peanut is in the final stage of trials to find out if it can end the immune system's life-threatening response by introducing trace amounts on to the outer layers of the skin.

The Viaskin "peanut patch" has been formulated by French biotech company DBV Technologies. Over time, as more peanut protein is introduced into the body, desensitisation will make the immune system used to the allergen.

Currently, sufferers have to carry a pre-loaded adrenaline injection, known as an EpiPen, which they must inject into the thigh muscle if they have a potentially fatal reaction. The anticipated Phase 3 trial of the patch is due to involve children aged 4-11 years of age— the company said it plans to initiate this third phase in the last quarter of this year.

Ireland has been chosen as one of the countries where people with the allergy will undergo a trial of the patch.

No company has entered Phase 3 for peanut allergy treatment before.

The FDA granted DBV Technologies Breakthrough Therapy Designation to its Viaskin Peanut for children in April.

A child has a higher risk of developing a peanut allergy if they already have a known allergy (such as eczema or a diagnosed food allergy), or there's a history of allergy in their immediate family (such as asthma, eczema or hay fever). If this is the case, talk to your GP before you give peanuts or food containing peanuts to your child for the first time.

Avoid giving a child peanuts and foods containing peanuts before the age of six months. Foods containing peanuts include peanut butter, peanut (groundnut) oil and some snacks.

Don't give whole peanuts or nuts to children under five years old because they could choke on them.

Read food labels carefully and avoid foods if you're not sure whether they contain peanuts.

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