The skin patch for a chronic condition in children triggered by milk: eosinophilic esophagitis

An image to illustrate that eosinophilic esophagitis is sometimes triggered by milk
© iStock/DragonImages

A chronic condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, which is triggered by milk, may be treated with a skin patch, according to a new study.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that the skin patch, called Viaskin Milk can be useful in treating children’s eosinophilic esophagitis.

The study leader Jonathan Spergel, MD, PhD, Chief of the Allergy Program at CHOP, commented: “This study shows great promise for an immunotherapy that aims to desensitize children to milk. Our next step would be to launch a much larger study to confirm our results. Currently, there’s no cure for EoE, so this would be the first strategy to treat the underlying cause of the disease.”

The patients in the pilot study followed a milk-free diet for nine months, then re-introduced milk into their diet for the next months. After eleven months, almost half of those wearing the Viaskin Milk path had fewer symptoms, including less inflammation when undergoing an endoscopy.

What is the skin patch?

The skin patch measures just over an inch long and contains trace amounts of milk protein.

How does the skin patch affect the chronic condition?

Of the twenty children with eosinophilic esophagitis who wore the Viaskin Milk skin patch 47% saw an improvement in their symptoms and normalisation of their biopsies after 11 months.

Eosinophilic esophagitis

It is a food-based causing redness, swelling in the oesophagus when a patient eats the food that trigger their reaction.

Possible symptoms include:

• Nausea;
• Vomiting;
• A burning sensation in the throat; or
• If left untreated, the oesophagus may narrow due to scarring.

Children with eosinophilic esophagitis also often have allergic disorder such as asthma, seasonal allergies or eczema. Traditional allergy testing is not helpful for eosinophilic esophagitis.

The only ways to manage eosinophilic esophagitis currently are treating the symptoms with off-label topical steroids which may cause growth retardation, or by a restrictive diet which may be difficult for patients to follow.

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