The year-end report from an ongoing clinical trial has provided evidence that peanut allergies can be helped by a treatment that uses a patch that delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin — referred to as epicutaneous immunotherapy or EPIT. The treatment has shown significant benefits for younger children suffering from these allergies.

“To avoid potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, people with peanut allergy must be vigilant about the foods they eat and the environments they enter, which can be very stressful,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director (NIAID), Anthony S. Fauci, said in a statement. “One goal of experimental approaches such as epicutaneous immunotherapy is to reduce this burden by training the immune system to tolerate enough peanut to protect against accidental ingestion or exposure.”

The researchers randomly assigned 74 peanut-allergic volunteers — between the ages of 4 and 25 years — to either a high-dose treatment (250 micrograms peanut protein), low-dose treatment (100 micrograms peanut protein), or a placebo patch, after assessing the peanut allergy with an oral food challenge using peanut-containing food.

Biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies developed and provided the “Viaskin” patches, which were provided to the participants each day, to be applied to their arm or between their shoulder blades.

At the end of the year, each participant’s ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than before the EPIT was assessed. Researchers found that the treatment was successful in 46 percent and 48 percent of the participants in low-dose and high-dose groups, respectively. The figure stood at 12 percent of the placebo group.

The treatment was more effective for children aged 4 to 11 years, and less for those over 12 years of age. There were no severe reactions reported for any of the study’s participants, most of whom followed the treatment as per directions.

“The high adherence to the daily peanut patch regimen suggests that the patch is easy-to-use, convenient and safe,” said Marshall Plaut of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation. “The results of this study support further investigation of epicutaneous immunotherapy as a novel approach for peanut allergy treatment.”

The one-year outcomes were published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on Wednesday. However, additional studies with a wider participant base are required for the therapy to be approved by authorities.