Allergy Therapeutics announced in April 2023 that the first cohort of patients with peanut allergies had “successfully” taken the “innovative short-course peanut allergy vaccine candidate”, VLP Peanut through skin prick testing (SPT). Through the PROTECT trial, the first-in-human study to evaluate VLP Peanut in adult subjects, the company aims to establish safety and tolerability.
Peanut allergies increase
Allergy Therapeutics suggests that peanut allergy is one of the most common types of food allergies, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe or even life threatening. An observed increase in peanut allergies is cause for concern, with around 2% of children in the UK affected. Although it most commonly occurs in early childhood, it can develop later in life, and only an estimated 1 in 5 children outgrow their allergies.
For the US, peanut allergies affect around 1.2% of the total population. The statement from Allergy Therapeutics suggests that 1 in 4 children with a peanut allergy require a hospital visit every year. Manuel Llobet, CEO of Allergy Therapeutics, describes the “increasing prevalence” of this “potentially life-threatening reaction”, calling for solutions “now more than ever”.
“We need better treatment options beyond the current approaches that require repeated and long-lasting exposure, therefore limiting patient adherence, and not providing sustained protection after stopping treatment.”
The open label phase of the PROTECT trial has demonstrated a “strongly reduced skin testing reactivity” of VLP peanut compared to a peanut extract, enabling the team to move to the second part of Phase I. This involves healthy subjects receiving doses of the candidate.
The vaccine candidate uses novel virus-like particle (VLP) technology to enhance the body’s immune response by likening the peanut allergen to an inactive virus. It is based on immunologically optimised cucumber mosaic virus derived VLPs with the major peanut allergen (Arachis hypogaea) displayed on the surface. Allergy Therapeutics states that this is a “step change” in allergy treatment.
“This engineered, plant-based virus, is designed for enhanced safety and provides a platform to induce protective antibodies without replicating or infecting human cells, similar to classic vaccination.”
For the growing number of people who experience a peanut allergy this could be a game changer.