'Peanut patch' could help cure nut allergies in children

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A patch designed to cure peanut allergy has seen two-thirds of children able to eat peanuts without a reaction occurring.

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Research carried out by a number of hospitals in France revealed that two-thirds of the 54 children aged five to 17, who trialled the Viaskin Peanut patch for 18 months, became less sensitive to nuts.

On average, the children who wore the patch for a year and a half were able to eat one and a half peanuts without displaying any symptoms. However, the patch was more effective for younger children rather than adolescents.

Viaskin Peanut, made by DBV technologies, aims to safely desensitise those with peanut allergies by increasing the level of peanut protein consumed without symptoms. 

Children who took part in the study were split into two groups, an ‘active group’, which saw 28 five- to 17-year-olds wear a Viaskin Peanut patch for six months and a ‘placebo group’ of 37 children who wore a dummy patch over the same time period.

After the initial six months, children in both groups wore a Viaskin Peanut patch for 12 months.

Researchers found that 20-40 per cent of children in the ‘active group’ were able to consume ten times more peanut protein than before.

According to the makers of Viaskin Peanut, peanut allergy affects 1.8 per cent of young children in the UK, and fewer than 20 per cent of children outgrow their allergy.

Maureen Jenkins, director of clinical services at Allergy UK, said, 'This is an exciting area of scientific research and there are several specialist centres, including in the UK, conducting trials for food desensitisation. This study shows currently there are positive results in some children. However, these clinical research programmes, and new ones, will continue to trial different ways to desensitise those with life-threatening food allergies.

'It is essential individuals do not attempt to test themselves or their child with a food to which they have a severe allergy. All of these studies are conducted in specialist hospital settings where emergency treatment is at hand.'