By Amanda Ojeda
About 5.4 million adults and 1.6 million children in the U.S. suffer from peanut allergies, which can vary from mild to severe. As a method of treating these allergies, a company called Intrommune Therapeutics has developed a toothpaste product, in the hopes of easing the challenges that allergy sufferers face.
Previous Means of Treatment
Symptoms of an allergic reaction are hives, anaphylaxis, swelling of the eyes, lips, throat, or face, and chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a cough. To alleviate these sometimes-fatal symptoms, there have been various types of treatments created 2 of which are Allerdent, and OIT.
OIT or oral immunotherapy is a form of treatment that works on any food allergies. It takes place in a hospital setting as doctors must monitor the patient throughout the treatment. Doctors will give a certain dosage of the allergen to the patient and will then increase the dosage after a certain time frame. This time frame also depends on the patient’s reaction during the first few weeks of challenging. The purpose of oral immunotherapy is to desensitize the patient to that food and build up a threshold. If the process is successful, the patient should be able to live their lives with the ability to consume the previous allergen.
Allerdent, which was developed in 2014, is another form of treatment, and like INT301, it is also a toothpaste. However, it does not treat food allergies, but it does specialize in respiratory allergies. Physicians must personalize the product specifically for the needs of each patient. One upside to Allerdent is it can be customized to treat the underlying causes of multiple allergies at once. How the product works is it releases immunotherapeutic agents into the body, similar to the OIT process it also builds up a tolerance within the patient. Before Allerdent, respiratory allergies to dust, dander, and pollen were treated through painful and inconvenient shots, or unreliable under-the-tongue drops. Under-the tongue drops are not as reliable because usually the immune cells within the cheek are the best targets for such allergens, both food and respiratory. A toothpaste form of therapy allows for a more convenient and accessible form of treatment, that does not require any supervision from a doctor.
The Creation of INT301
INT301 is somewhat of a combination of OIT and Allerdent. In other words, it has both the accessibility factor and is in the area of treating food allergies, specifically peanuts. INT301 is intended to be an at home treatment plan, however, the trials are still currently running, and that initial plan may change accordingly. This product is especially helpful for airborne sufferers who unfortunately cannot be in a room with exposed peanut products. One can see how inconvenient this form of allergies can be and how it can hinder young children’s social capabilities and deeply affect their childhood. Parents may have increased anxiety about sending their kids to schools where cafeterias may have peanut products, or letting their kids go on field trips without their parental supervision, or any situation where the child may be away from parental oversight. Strict dietary avoidance is often expensive and hard to achieve without any accidental occurrences. This product can also help against the occasional “Peanut-free” labelled product that technically still has small amounts of peanut protein. By exposing children to the allergen, and building up a strong tolerance to the allergen, products like INT301 may save lives.
Since it is expected to be an at-home treatment, INT301 is very accessible for parents who may not have the time to spend two hours each week at the hospital, to have their kids undergo OIT treatment. The form of toothpaste limits a 1 ½-2-hour process, which needs to be taken 7 days apart for 4-8 months, into a 2 minutes 2-3 times a day, daily routine.
However, there are a few issues Intrommune Therapeutics may face such as a recent dental surgery or a lost tooth that will leave exposed wounds and inflamed gums. The allergens within the toothpaste will then have direct access to the bloodstream and this may trigger a strong allergic reaction.
Overall, Intrommune Therapeutics is on a mission to save lives or at the very least alleviate some anxiety and challenges that come with allergies. While the trials are still underway, if the product is successful Intrommune may choose to venture off into other types of common food allergies such as seafood and continue their medical research.