Skin patches may help kids' peanut allergies, study says

Story highlights

  • Peanut patches may help raise peanut tolerance, a study says
  • Patches were most effective for kids ages 4 to 11 with peanut allergies

(CNN)Peanut allergies are among the most serious food allergies, requiring constant vigilance. In severe cases, exposure to even trace amounts of the nut can trigger a deadly reaction. But according to a new study published last week in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a tiny skin patch may help treat peanut allergies.

Over the course of a year, researchers from the Consortium of Food Allergy Research tested 74 peanut-allergic volunteers, ages 4 through 20, to see whether a daily Viaskin peanut patch could help raise their peanut threshold. The patch, called epicutaneous immunotherapy, released peanut proteins into the participants' skin, building cellular tolerance to the nuts.
The results showed that participants who received higher doses of peanut protein in the patch were able to consume more peanuts after a year. The patch was the most effective on children ages 4 to 11 and significantly less effective on older participants, according to a statement from the National Institutes of Health, which funded the study through its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

    The trial

    The peanut patch trial was conducted at five research sites: Arkansas Children's Hospital, the National Jewish Health Center in Denver, Johns Hopkins University, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
    The newly published results were from the first year of the trial, but the researchers will continue monitoring the participants for a total of two and a half years.