Peanut allergies are on the rise, and some are so severe as to result in anaphylaxis (often causing swelling, vomiting, and a drop in blood pressure) and death, reports the Mayo Clinic. Even without harmful exposures, constant vigilance can be stressful, but treatments don't yet exist—while research suggests that putting off exposure has helped cause the rise in allergies. Now researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that the results of a one-year clinical trial suggest exposure to trace amounts of peanut protein through a skin patch called the Viaskin Peanut Patch, developed by DBV Technologies, can be both safe and effective.
The trial follows 74 participants ages 4 to 25, and will continue for another year and a half before additional evaluation, reports Gizmodo. So far, researchers have found that nearly half of the participants using either a high-dose (250-microgram) patch or a low-dose (100-microgram) patch, which they put on every day, enjoyed increased protection from peanut exposure, and that it worked best in the youngest kids. The National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the research, note that the Viaskin patch uses epicutaneous immunotherapy and works by "training the immune system to tolerate enough peanut to protect against accidental ingestion or exposure." (A woman with allergies died after kissing her boyfriend.)