Purpose: Epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT) involving the skin's immune system is easy to use, painless and has a low risk of systemic side effects; it can be applied to food allergies that have a high morbidity rate in children. In this study, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of hydrophilic gel patch (HG) for EPIT.
Methods: Milk protein concentrate (MPC)-containing HG was applied to the skin that maintained a barrier function or formed puncture holes with microneedle, and MPC-specific antibodies were measured. The clinical study was conducted involving patients with severe milk allergy.
Results: No specific immune response was induced when immunizing to intact skin, and antibody production was observed by forming puncture holes. It was suggested that MPC contained in HG has immunogenicity and a very small amount of MPC was delivered to intact skin. In the clinical study, the symptom induction threshold increased in four of eight subjects, allowing them to consume milk and switch to oral immunotherapy. Although local skin reactions and temporary elevation of specific IgE antibodies were observed, no systemic side effects appeared throughout the study.
Conclusions: EPIT using HG is a safe method to enable oral administration even in patients with severe milk allergies.
Keywords: cow milk allergy; epicutaneous immunotherapy; exploratory clinical pilot study; hydrophilic gel patch.