3 Novel Peanut Allergy Treatments

By Christina Phillis

New treatment options are being developed to help reduce the risk associated with allergic reactions to accidental peanut ingestion.

Food allergies affect 32 million people in the United States, 5.6 million of whom are children. That means one in 13 children faces the risk of eating something that could be seriously harmful or even deadly. Because peanuts are one of the most common causes of these reactions, scientists are looking for new ways to protect allergic individuals from accidental peanut exposure.

Peanut Allergy Vaccine

One immunotherapy treatment that has already undergone a phase 1 clinical trial is a peptide-based vaccine. Aravax’s PVX108 injection exposes patients to peanut proteins in increasing amounts in an effort to reset their immune systems. It is believed that these treatments will ultimately prevent them from experiencing a serious reaction to peanuts.

Unlike other immunotherapy options, this vaccine doesn’t trigger the cells that can cause anaphylaxis, the most severe reaction. Most study participants reported suffering from prior anaphylactic reactions (63.3 percent of stage 1 patients and 61.1 percent of stage 2 patients) or asthma (32.7 percent of stage 1 patients and 44.4 percent of stage 2 patients).

So far, this peanut allergy vaccine has only been tested for safety. Unlike other desensitization techniques, treatments don’t need to be administered daily, which potentially reduces the risk associated with daily peanut exposure. It may also be a viable option for patients who do not respond well to oral or epicutaneous methods.

Peanut Allergy Pill

A new oral immunotherapy, referred to as AR101, was shown in a phase 3 clinical trial to help some children with severe peanut allergies develop a slight tolerance. Aimmune Therapeutics has applied for FDA approval of the drug, the first of its kind. It minimizes the risks of accidental peanut exposure by building up the patient’s tolerance.

Approximately 500 children, ages four to 17, and 50 adults from 10 different countries participated in the study. Participants who received AR101 instead of the placebo gradually increased their dosage every two weeks.

At the end of the study, 67 percent of children who took the active drug were able to ingest 600 milligrams of peanut protein without significant reactions. Only four percent of children in the placebo group were able to safely ingest the protein after the study ended. The differences between the two groups of adults were not as significant, meaning the drug might be most effective in children. Only six percent of people in the active groups experienced serious or severe side effects.

Peanut Allergy Patch

The Viaskin peanut patch was shown to be safe and well-tolerated in a phase 3 clinical trial evaluating children between one and three years old. Researchers randomly administered 100 or 250 micrograms of the Viaskin peanut patch or a placebo. Both doses of Viaskin were found to be safe at the conclusion of the trial.

An earlier phase 3 clinical trial was used to assess the safe use of the patch in routine medical practice. After one year of treatment, 35.3 percent of children in the trial responded to the patch, compared to 13.6 percent of the placebo group. This trial included a total of 356 children between four and 11 years old. Children known to have severe reactions were excluded.

The response to the treatment was good, but the overall success rate was not as high as expected. Oral therapies still outperform the patch, but it’s easy to use and low risk for patients.

Although all three treatments are awaiting FDA approval and further study, they may offer millions of peanut allergy sufferers a reason to breathe a sigh of relief.

3 Novel Peanut Allergy Treatments

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