A new biotechnology company is developing a way to deal with peanut allergies so easily, it’ll be as simple as brushing your teeth.
Intrommune, a New York-based has required the licensing to produce toothpaste products intended to desensitize users to food allergies.
More than 1.5 million children live with peanut allergies in the U.S., while allergies in general are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease. Peanut allergies are particularly cumbersome: some react to them so poorly, they have a reaction even if they’re in the same room as the nuts.
Since a lot of peanut allergies suffers are youths, having toothpaste that fights allergies is convenient and easy to add to their routine (which actually doesn’t change).
“They don’t have to feel like they’re sick,” Danya Glabau, Intrommune’s director of medical affairs, told Business Insider. “They’re not doing anything different from their friends.”
The toothpaste revolves around the idea of immunotherapy. The small doses of peanut added to the toothpaste introduces the body to whatever they’re allergic to in manageable amounts, hoping they’ll be able to re-train their immune system to not react so strongly to the allergen. With the toothpaste, the peanut solution enters the body through the oral mucosa, or the mucous membrane that lines our mouths.
But why toothpaste?
Bill Reisacher, an ear, nose and throat doctor at Weill Cornell Medical College, came up with the idea.
“While he was brushing his teeth, his toothpaste was hitting some areas of the oral cavity that were scientifically known to help drive the desensitization process and help drive the immune system retraining process,” Glabau said.
Reisacher recognized he could fuse immunotherapy with daily activities, prompting him to test out the hypothesis in respiratory allergies, like allergies to pollen or mold.
Intrommune’s toothpaste isn’t quite consumer-ready yet. They’re currently developing a peanut with a consistent makeup, so they can determine how much of the peanut protein to add to the product. Clinical trials for FDA approval will follow, and from there, moving to treating other popular allergens such as soy, wheat, milk, and eggs.
And if the product is marketed towards kids, they might want to work on some additional kid-friendly flavours – they only have classic mint flavour at the moment.