Armed with this encouraging research, a company formed by the French researchers is now set to begin a safety trial on a comparable peanut patch. If the safety trial is successfully completed, Sampson and the researchers in CoFAR hope to begin the next level of clinical trials: to see if the patch works to desensitize patients allergic to peanut.
Sampson, who is the director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says it’s unclear why placing an allergen on the skin could lead to an allergic person being able to consume the food in question without reaction. But he says a variety of research done with mice shows that you can both sensitize, and desensitize, through the skin. Part of the work his group will undertake will be to discover more about the immunologic factors at play.
One promising aspect of desensitization through the skin, compared to other methods such as oral immunotherapy (in which patients eat gradually increasing amounts of their allergen) is that so far, reactions have been limited to the area where the patch is applied, and have not affected other systems of the body. However, the French study was done on a small group of patients.
Sampson hopes to begin his trial mid 2011.