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Researchers find how skin biomarkers in infants can predict early development of food allergies


WASHINGTON: Childhood food allergies are common and can be very serious or even deadly. In the process of creating a programme to stop food allergies, researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered early indicators of the illness.
Findings of the study published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology’s March 2024 issue, skin tape strips were taken from babies’ forearms when they were just two months old–a time before any indication of a food allergy could be seen.The skin tape sampling method was created by experts at National Jewish Health, and it is soft and noninvasive for these very young patients. The lipids and surface proteins on the skin attach to the tape, which is subsequently removed to examine the specifics.
“We know that the immune system underneath the skin alters the skin barrier. With our painless skin tapes, we know if proteins sitting on the surface of the skin are abnormal,” said Evgeny Berdyshev, PhD, a researcher at National Jewish Health and first author of the study. “If there were abnormal lipids and abnormal proteins on the skin, that is an early sign of what can eventually lead to atopic dermatitis and food allergies.”
“Ultimately, we want to identify people at risk for food allergy and address skin barrier abnormalities early to prevent the development of these conditions,” said Donald Leung, MD, head of the Division of Pediatric Allergy & Immunology in the Department of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health, and senior author of the study.
“This is just the first step,” said Dr. Leung. “We now have a biomarker for atopic dermatitis and food allergy – the abnormality is abnormal lipids, microbes and proteins. We are now testing newborn babies to determine whether we can prevent this abnormality. We put a lipid cream on the skin of the study participants, so it hopefully can penetrate the skin and infuse it with fatty acids. We are working to develop an anti-inflammatory cream as a result of this study.”

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