The treatment of allergies through the skin might seem like a strange idea at first glance. However, at DBV Technologies (www.dbv-technologies.com/en/), they think they’re really onto something with their new epicutaneous immunotherapy approach.
The vehicle behind this method is a small adhesive patch, of the kind you can see pictured below. Known as the Viaskin patch, it consists of a number of components, including an adhesive crown, a titanium backing and a breathable ‘cover’. Inside the patch are minute quantities of an antigen in powder form. This has been sprayed onto the patch using electrospray technology, which improves adherence. Another major innovation is the ‘condensation chamber’ effect created by the patch. This hydrates the skin and therefore facilitates the passage of the antigens from the patch through the epidermis and into the Langerhans cells, which are their final destination. These immune cells are antigen-presenting, meaning that they are perfect for use in a tolerization or desensitization process, which is what the patch is ultimately all about. Other immunotherapy techniques also aim to build up the body’s tolerance levels, but usually entail a higher risk of anaphylaxis than the Viaskin approach.