Kirsten Kloepfer, an associate professor of pediatrics at IU, is the principal investigator in a study researching allergic reactions in children ages one to three years old with confirmed peanut allergies. The goal is to see if using a skin patch would desensitize these children to peanuts.
The immunotherapy drug Viaskin Peanut helps toddlers’ allergic reactions to peanuts by desensitizing their immune systems. Viaskin Peanut helped desensitize patients to peanuts and helped increase the patients’ dosages of peanuts without causing allergic reaction symptoms, according to an IU press release. Peanut allergy immunotherapy can be used on children and adults by building up peanut exposure slowly so it can desensitize the patient to high doses of peanuts.
Researchers conducted the study across 51 different sites including Australia, Canada, England, France, Cincinnati and Chicago. Kloepfer led the only site located in Indiana, which studied patients from Riley Hospital for Children. The study was sponsored by biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies.
Kloepfer said there are currently no treatment options available for toddlers with peanut allergies. She said doctors and researchers will often just tell the families to avoid peanuts and give the toddlers an EpiPen.
“This [study] targeted a group of children, who did not have any other options other than to just avoid peanuts, to see if we could alter their immune system.” Kloepfer said. “We thought if we used the patch early in life, that we might be able to make some changes before their immune systems were fully developed.”
Kloepfer said about 67% of the toddlers who used the skin patch on their arm were able to tolerate larger doses of peanuts after 12 months. A skin patch releases medicine into the body through the skin. Peanut allergies affect 1.8% of the U.S. population according to the National Library of Medicine.
“We are getting ready to start working with kids who are four to seven years of age with the patch and then looking to see if we can use the patch for other foods such as milk, eggs or tree nuts,” Kloepfer said.
People interested in having their child participate in the Viaskin Peanut trial for four-to-seven-year-olds can contact Patrick Campbell at 317-278-7177, according to the press release.
Kloepfer said the skin patches have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so the next step is to go to the FDA to seek approval.