Could the next form of treatment for peanut allergies come in the form of a patch? Researchers at the National Jewish Health are investigating whether a 'peanut patch' is a viable and safe method of treating those with peanut allergies, reports Physorg.com (http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-peanut-allergy-patch.html).
In theory, the patch would work by desensitizing patients through exposing them to peanut protein. Delivered through a patch placed on the skin, this method is similar to the way allergy shots make those with seasonal allergies less sensitive to pollen.
Dr. David Fleischer, a Pediatric Allergist with National Jewish Health, commented on the potential benefits of the patch over conventional food allergy treatments: “We currently treat food allergy using oral immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy or drops under the tongue, but if this patch proves successful, it would likely be a much more convenient treatment option for patients and their families.”
Those working on the patch hope that it could be administered at home, avoiding the need for repeated office visits so that patients undergoing immunotherapy can receive progressively higher doses of food protein.
Right now, the peanut patch is going through safety testing. If successful, the next step is a clinical trial to test the patch's ability to desensitize allergic patients. While Dr. Fleischer admits that the peanut patch has a long way to go before it is deemed a viable and safe allergy treatment, he also said “This is potentially a very exciting advance in the treatment of food allergies.”