Peanut allergy is perhaps the best-known – we could even say most notorious – of all food allergies. In the United States alone, up to 200 people die each year from allergic reactions to peanuts and over one hundred thousand individuals require hospital treatment for the same reason. A French company, DBV-Technologies (http://www.dbv-technologies.com/en/) has been at the forefront of efforts to devise safer, more effective allergy treatments. Key amongst these is the Viaskin peanut patch, about which you can find out more if you click here.
The patch (which you can see in the diagram below) uses the same basic approach for peanut, cows’ milk protein and egg allergies. Tiny amounts of the antigen in question are sprayed upon the patch. This forms a dry, even layer upon the backing. On contact with the skin, these antigens solubilize and then penetrate the skin, where they come into contact with the tolerogenic Langerhans cells. This begins the process of ‘tolerization’ – getting the body used to substances which previously would have set off an allergic reaction. The Viaskin patch is suitable for all ages, but particularly children, as it is pain-free and easy to apply.