- Courtesy of DBV Technologies
A treatment for one of the most common food allergies out there just got even more data that it’s working.
Roughly 1.5 million children in the US are allergic to peanuts, an allergy that can often be so severe that even the smallest amount of contact can set off an extreme reaction.
To counter that, DBV Technologies is working on a patch designed to lessen that severity, reducing the risk of accidental exposure.
In new phase two data presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology conference on Sunday, the company showed that 83% of children ages 6 to 11 who took part in the trial – and wore a patch containing 250 micrograms of peanut protein – responded to the treatment after wearing after three years.
Responding to the treatment either meant that they could be exposed to 1,000 milligrams of peanut protein, or 10 times the amount of peanut the participants could handle when they first joined the trial. Though the phase two data looked at people ages 6 to 55, the best responses came from children on the trial.
Allergies are an immune system’s response to a substance that may not be harmful to others. They’re the sixth-leading cause of chronic disease in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4% to 6% of children in the US have food allergies, with peanuts being one of the worst offenders.
In December 2015, DBV kicked off a phase three trial looking at how the patch worked in kids ages 4 to 11, which along with this data will set the company up to be considered for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
How the patch works
The immune-system-targeting drug is delivered through the skin through a process called epicutaneous immunotherapy.
Inside each patch is a sprayed-on sample of peanut protein. Once you put it on, the protein makes its way into your immune system through your skin. Since it’s delivered this way, the allergen never makes it to the bloodstream, which would cause the allergic reaction you’re trying to avoid.
Based on the data from DBV’s phase two trial, those who used the patch for three years at the 250-microgram dose (the highest dose) had the best responses to the treatment.
The patch treatment is a departure from the way allergies are typically treated. Typically, the only way to lessen an allergic reaction is through “desensitization,” a process in which you gradually introduce small amounts of the allergen into your body. In the case of peanut allergies, that means eating the peanut outright.
That method can be risky, as it can cause an allergic reaction that spreads throughout the body through the bloodstream. Other, more common methods, for treating allergies have been focused around treating the symptoms of the allergic reaction – i.e., using antihistamines like Benadryl or shots of epinephrine in extreme cases.
Beyond peanut allergies, DBV is developing patches to treat other food allergies such as milk and eggs – among the most common food allergies – and other nonfood allergies that are connected to asthma. The company is also exploring treatments for Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and Type 1 diabetes that use the same immunotherapy technology.