Scientists have developed a skin patch that could conquer deadly peanut allergies.
The stick-on patch is packed with tiny traces of peanut protein and could help thousands of people affected by life-threatening reactions to the popular snack.
Worn on the arm or back, the patch allows minute amounts of the protein to gradually seep through the top layers of the skin.
Around one in 14 children aged under three have a food allergy. Most grow out of them, however peanut allergies are more persistent
It then comes into contact with immune system cells which would normally trigger a life-threatening overreaction.
But the proteins are in such tiny quantities that the immune cells slowly get used to their presence, learning to recognise peanuts so that they are no longer a threat.
As a result, the body’s defences stop overreacting when they come into contact with peanuts.
The patch, about the size of ten pence piece, has just entered a year-long international trial involving more than 200 patients with severe peanut allergies.
The volunteers will either wear a peanut patch or an identical dummy one, changing it for a new one every day.
Scientists behind the patch hope it will help those with known peanut allergies whose lives are put at risk through accidentally coming into contact with tiny amounts of the harmful protein.
Around one in 50 children in the UK has an allergy to peanuts. It often starts when children are very young and most first allergic reactions take place when a child is between 14 months and two years old.
The patch contains a deposit of peanut proteins (the antigen). DBV says the condensation chamber allows the release of soluble proteins and enables hyper-hydration of the skin making it easier for the proteins to enter the skin
Boys are 30 per cent more likely to get it than girls and children from relatively affluent homes face double the risk of their poorer counterparts.
Last September, 17-year-old Christopher Smith from the Wirral died from peanut allergy after taking just one bite of a chicken and chips take-away meal.
Many sufferers have to carry a device called an EpiPen, which can be used in an emergency to inject the hormone adrenaline, which dampens down inflammation and swelling in the airways during a severe attack.
The breakthrough patch, called Viaskin Peanut, does not cause anaphylactic shock - the very severe reaction where the airways shut down within minutes - because the proteins stay in the skin and do not penetrate as far as the bloodstream.
A spokesman for French firm DBV Technologies, which developed the patch, said: ‘There are no treatments available on the market for this life-threatening disease. Viaskin Peanut brings real hope for millions of patients.’
The same firm is also developing a similar patch to help children with milk allergy.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2185409/Skin-patch-free-thousands-sufferers-peanut-allergy.html#ixzz22yej7WRv