A new type of ‘Peanut Patch’ is being developed, showing improvements in speed and intrusiveness. Viaskin Peanut, more commonly known as the Peanut Patch, is a patch one puts onto their skin as a form of immunotherapy. This patch uses moisture from the skin to insert peanut protein into the body over the course of over 12 hours. However, a new competitor, the microneedle patch, can be administered in just five minutes, once a week.
The microneedle patch uses a collection of 50 small needles to insert the peanut protein directly into the skin. In an experiment, it desensitized a group of mice to peanuts in just five weeks, whereas the Peanut Patch used on a similar group of mice took two months to desensitize the creatures.
Microneedle patches, unlike Viaskin patches, have not yet been tested on humans, and their safety is unknown. Viaskin patches, although having been tested on humans and yielding no adverse side effects, have been once rejected by the FDA.
The FDA rejected the patch due to adhesion concerns; there were no major health concerns involved in the rejection.
Viaskin has since made changes to the patch and has reported in a 2021 press release that they are speaking with the FDA once more in preparation for another submission. Microneedle patches have not yet begun to seek approval from the FDA.
As of right now, one of the most popular forms of immunotherapy is oral immunotherapy; the consumption of increasing amounts of an allergen daily until reaching a maintenance dose, at which point a constant dose size is taken indefinitely. However, this method does not come without risks; one of the largest drawbacks is the chance of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory disease of the esophagus that can be caused by oral immunotherapy.
EoE is not thought to be a risk associated with the Viaskin Peanut patch, as the patch makes no contact with the esophagus. It is unknown whether microneedle patches could have such risks, as they are in only the early stages of testing. As a matter of fact, there is not much known about the risks of microneedle patches at all. However, since the microneedle patch does not make contact with the esophagus either, one can assume EoE would not be a side effect.
Nor is much known about how these patches would be used on humans; five minutes a week may work on mice, but humans have much larger, more complex immune systems, so comprehensive testing must be done.