- DBV Technologies has been testing a patch meant to ease allergic reactions to peanuts.
- The company said it didn’t hit its main goal of achieving more tolerance with the patch than the placebo.
- DBV plans to submit its findings to the FDA anyway.
A potential treatment for one of the most common food allergies out there just failed a key trial.
Roughly 1.5 million children in the US are allergic to peanuts, an allergy that can often be so severe that even the smallest amount of contact can set off an extreme reaction.
To counter that, DBV Technologies has been testing a patch designed to lessen that severity of the allergic reaction.
But in a late-stage trial, DBV wasn’t able to hit a key statistic measurement needed to consider the trial a success.
DBV said of the patients who took part in the trial, 35% of those who took the patch responded after a year, while 13.6% of those who took the placebo patch responded. Responding to the treatment either meant that they could be exposed to a certain amount more peanut protein than when they started the trial.
DBV said it still plans to proceed toward submitting the data to the FDA for approval. DBV’s stock was down as much as 60% on Friday following the news.
“We believe that this preliminary analysis shows significant therapeutic promise in the peanut-allergic population, where there is a high unmet medical need and no approved treatments,” DBV CEO Dr. Pierre-Henri Benhamou said in a statement.
How the patch works
The immune-system-targeting drug is delivered through the skin through a process called epicutaneous immunotherapy.
Inside each patch is a sprayed-on sample of peanut protein. Once you put it on, the protein makes its way into your immune system through your skin. Since it’s delivered this way, the allergen never makes it to the bloodstream, which would cause the allergic reaction you’re trying to avoid.
The patch treatment is a departure from the way allergies are typically treated. Typically, the only way to lessen an allergic reaction is through “desensitization,” a process in which you gradually introduce small amounts of the allergen into your body. In the case of peanut allergies, that means eating the peanut protein outright.
That method can be risky, as it can cause an allergic reaction that spreads throughout the body through the bloodstream. Other, more common methods, for treating allergies have been focused on treating the symptoms of the allergic reaction — i.e., using antihistamines like Benadryl or shots of epinephrine in extreme cases.
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