Toothpaste that can treat peanut allergies? It’s in clinical trials

Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

A New York City–based company has launched a trial to start testing [a new] concept in a small group of peanut-allergy sufferers. The idea is to expose users to small doses of an allergen daily [through peanut-laced toothpaste], in order to build and maintain tolerance to it.

Tying this treatment to a daily routine should help allergy sufferers keep up with regular treatment, say researchers at Intrommune Therapeutics, which developed the toothpaste. The product may also do a better job than existing therapies at delivering the active ingredients in those treatments to immune cells throughout the mouth, they say.

About 32 million Americans have food allergies. One existing treatment, oral immunotherapy, also exposes patients to small amounts of their allergen through daily doses swallowed as food. However, the treatment can trigger allergic reactions, and the hard-earned tolerance often wanes without continued maintenance dosing.

A gentler treatment, known as sublingual immunotherapy — which instead delivers smaller doses through under-the-tongue liquid drops — offers decent protection while causing fewer side effects.

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The newly launched clinical trial of the toothpaste designed to treat peanut allergy will enroll 32 peanut-allergic adults to test how well they tolerate escalating doses. Future trials may test toothpastes that contain several allergens, [Intrommune’s Michael] Nelson says.

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