French company DBV-Technologies, which can be found online at http://www.dbv-technologies.com/en/, is causing real excitement amongst allergy sufferers. Allergies are something of a modern-day scourge in the western world in particular. They affect millions of people and can strike seemingly out of nowhere. Peanut and milk allergies are two of the most troublesome to deal with: peanut, because of the potentially very severe risks associated with serious peanut allergies, and the prevalence of nuts in the modern food chain, milk, because cows’ milk protein allergies affect up to 3% of young children.
With this in mind, DBV-Technologies have created both the Viaskin Peanut patch and the Viaskin milk patch. In outward appearances, both are identical (see diagram below). They work on the same principle as well. The patch contains very small quantities of an antigen in powder form. Upon contact with the skin, this antigen solubilizes and penetrates the epidermis. From there, it can enter the Langerhans cells. This enables the body to start the process of ‘tolerization’, in other words, being in contact with these antigens without it triggering a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).