Treating peanut allergy through a patch

March 2, 2011

Can your peanut-allergic child be treated by simply wearing a patch? That’s what researchers at National Jewish Health are investigating. National Jewish Health, along with four other institutions in the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), are currently testing the safety of a peanut patch.

The peanut patch would seek to desensitize allergic patients by exposing them to increasing amounts of peanut protein, similar to the way shots can desensitize people to pollen. The protein would be delivered through the skin from a patch, like nicotine patches used by people trying to quit tobacco.

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“We currently treat food allergy using oral immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy or drops under the tongue, but if this patch proves successful, it would likely be a much more convenient treatment option for patients and their families,” said David Fleischer, MD, Pediatric Allergist at National Jewish Health.

Currently patients undergoing immunotherapy need to receive progressively higher doses of their allergenic food protein in their doctor’s office on a regular basis. Researchers hope that the patch could be administered at home and would eliminate the number of office visits.

The peanut patch is currently undergoing a rigorous safety trial. If the safety trial is successful, researchers hope to begin clinical trials to determine if the patch works to desensitize patients allergic to peanut.

“We have a long way to go to determine if this is a viable and safe way to treat peanut allergy,” said Dr. Fleischer. “However, this is potentially a very exciting advance in the treatment of food allergies.”

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