A novel method for predicting anaphylaxis during food allergy tests has been developed by researchers at the University of Michigan. The method involves measuring increases in skin water loss before symptoms appear. It could improve patient safety and comfort by reducing the need for emergency measures like adrenaline injections.
Current methods for diagnosing food allergies, such as skin and blood tests, often provide inaccurate results. Oral food challenges, where patients consume increasing amounts of the suspected allergen under medical supervision, are more accurate but carry the risk of adverse reactions.
The new method measures trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), the amount of water escaping from the skin per hour. TEWL increases during anaphylaxis and correlates well with biochemical markers of the reaction but occurs well before the clinical detection of anaphylactic symptoms. Measurements can be done in a doctor’s office without specialized equipment and is suitable for children.
Researchers are currently conducting a trial to determine specific TEWL values associated with anaphylaxis. This information could be used to establish guidelines for interrupting oral food challenges and potentially reduce the need for emergency medical treatment.
Reference: Schuler et al., 2023. Trans-epidermal water loss rises before food anaphylaxis and predicts food challenge outcomes. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. DOI: 10.1172/JCI168965