New Hope for Pollen, Milk Allergies
Shorter Course of Allergy Shots, Skin Patch for Milk Allergies Among New Approaches
Skin Patch for Milk Allergies
Eight of 13 children with dairy allergies who wore a skin patch for three
months could drink three times as much milk as before without showing signs of
an allergic reaction, reports Christophe Dupont, MD, PhD, of Hopital Saint
Vincent de Paul in Paris.
None of the seven children given a placebo patch showed that much increased
tolerance, he says.
The experimental skin patch, which is coated with cow’s milk powder, was
placed on the children’s backs every other day. It’s called Viaskin and is made
by DBV Technologies, which funded the research.
One child could drink nearly three cups of milk after three months of
treatment, Dupont says. Others built enough immunity to prevent allergic
reactions if they ate foods that contained trace amounts of milk proteins.
Dupont says that a major advantage of the patch over allergy shots is that
you can remove it if someone suffers an allergic reaction.
Wesley Burks, MD, chief of the division of pediatric allergy and immunology
at Duke University Medical Center, tells WebMD that the approach is promising,
but that more studies looking at its safety are needed. Burks was not involved
with the study.
Oral Immunotherapy for Children With Milk Allergies
Other researchers are following 15 children who successfully completed a
course of oral immunotherapy in which they built up tolerance by swallowing
tiny but escalating doses of milk protein in the form of powder mixed with
Four months after stopping treatment, five of the 15 continue to drink at
least two 8-ounce glasses of milk a day, says Satya Narisety, MD, of Johns
Hopkins School of Medicine.
The other children are tolerating an ounce of milk a day on average, he
“Even after stopping therapy, they’re still able to have milk in their
diet,” he tells WebMD.
The catch: Many still have minor signs of allergic reaction, such as itching
on the lip or tongue or mild stomach aches, about once a week or every other
“The reactions are largely unpredictable, although they are going down in
frequency,” Narisety says.
Other researchers are studying sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, which
involves placing drops or tablets that contain small amounts of an allergen
under the tongue. Several studies presented at the meeting suggest the approach
is safe and may alleviate symptoms in people with pollen and dust mite
But not all the news is good: Still other doctors found that SLIT may not
work that well for people who are allergic to more than one type of pollen --
ragweed and grass, for example.
“When we gave drops that contain [grass allergen] alone, outcomes were
significantly improved. But patients given [grass] mixed with nine other
extracts didn’t do significantly better than those given placebo,” says Harold
Nelson, MD, of National Jewish Health in Denver.
The big advantage of drops over shots is that you can apply them yourself,
at home, Nelson tells WebMD. But “there’s probably a probably a limited role
for single-extract [drops] in the U.S., as most Americans are allergic to
multiple allergens,” he says.