Aimmune’s Peanut Allergy Drug Desensitizes Patients in Trial

Aimmune Therapeutics Inc.’s treatment for peanut allergy successfully desensitized patients in a midstage trial. If eventually approved, it would be the first oral drug for the condition.

The treatment, known as AR101, would be used to protect people with peanut allergies from a small, accidental exposure, such as what might happen in a restaurant.

Of 29 patients who received the drug, six dropped out because of gastrointestinal side effects. The remaining 23 patients were able to tolerate at least 443 milligrams of peanut protein, slightly more than a peanut kernel’s worth, according to data presented Sunday at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress in Barcelona. Only five of 26 patients who received a placebo in the trial were able to take the same amount of peanut protein.

“These results suggest that AR101 has the potential to become the first approved oral desensitization therapy for peanut allergy,” said Wesley Burks, chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and primary investigator in the trial, in a statement. “There is a need for a safe and effective treatment to help protect people from dangerous reactions triggered by trace exposures to peanut allergens.”

There was one serious adverse event in the trial that required a single administration of epinephrine, which is used to treat allergic reactions, according to the statement.

Targeting Children

“If approved, we believe oral peanut desensitization therapy can be an important option for patients,” Aimmune Chief Executive Officer Stephen Dilly said in an e-mail. “The most significant unmet need is in children who are too young to effectively practice avoidance or to reliably self-administer epinephrine.”

More than 5 million people in the U.S. and Europe have peanut allergies, according to Aimmune. DBV Technologies SA in Bagneux, France, is developing a patch technology for milk and peanut allergies in children.

Aimmune, a closely held biotechnology firm in Brisbane, California, has raised $97 million in two rounds of venture capital funding, with investors including Foresite Capital and Aisling Capital. The biotech will start final-stage studies of its peanut therapy later this year or early next year, Dilly said.

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