In the past decade, food allergies have become a major point of concern for paediatricians, especially those treating very young children. The number of cases has almost doubled over the last ten years. EUREKA project E! 3292 MULTI-PATCH has helped to develop a full range of 'DIALLERTEST'® products, aimed at detecting the most frequently observed children's allergies, including milk, corn, soy and house dust mites. Already being marketed internationally, the results represent a major success for European medical research and development.
The scientific approach to allergies has evolved explains Pierre-Henri Benhamou of France's DBV technologies. Aside from the well-known 'immediate' forms of allergy, which involve rapid acute symptoms upon allergen ingestion, 'delayed' types have also been described since the 1990s. Here, clinical symptoms, usually digestive or cutaneous reactions, occur several hours, days or even weeks after. "These allergies are caused by foods that form the base of the day-to-day diet," says Benhamou, "and to which the patient becomes only gradually sensitised. Unlike the more traditional forms of allergy, the delayed forms pose important problems in terms of diagnosis."
"What's different about the 'DIALLERTEST'® system is that it uses DBV's new E-patch® technology," explains Benhamou. "This allows us to set dry powdered milk onto the patch by means of electrostatic forces. Thus, no additive or wet substance is needed to hold the suspected allergen in place. This represents an important simplification of the patch test." It means that a much tighter control over the quantity of allergen is delivered, a more measurable and reproducible reaction, and, ultimately, more reliable and standardised screening for cow's milk protein allergy. It will also allow doctors to keep allergens in their best reactive state, the powdered form. The materials used in 'DIALLERTEST'® patch tests are all bio-compatible, specially conceived for the pharmaceutical industry.
At the beginning of 2006, new investors SOFINOVA and APAX contributed 12 million euro to DBV Technologies, providing further impetus to their work on child allergy detection and treatment systems. The company is now working in several related directions, collaborating with laboratories and universities both in Europe and the United States. Benhamou says the Nutricia laboratory, a world leader in infant nutrition, has agreed to undertake the commercial marketing of 'DIALLERTEST'®, confirming one of the most outstanding success stories in recent years the field of child allergies.
"With support from EUREKA and thanks to a particularly dynamic research team, DBV has developed a range of completely original tests," he says, "creating strong commercial alliances on the basis of an extremely original and innovative concept. In cooperation with our Polish partner P.P.F. Hasco-Lek. Today, our products are being distributed in Mexico, Australia and the countries of the ex-USSR, and the necessary paperwork is also being completed for distribution in the US and with the European drug agency (EMEA)."