Allergic diseases, including atopic eczema, and food allergies affect over a quarter of all children across Europe. The way the immune system responds to ingested foods are well-established, and regular eating of allergy-causing foods can prevent food allergies to a degree. However, recent research also shows that food allergies can develop through the skin, especially where babies’ have dry skin and eczema. We do not fully understand how this happens at the moment.

The project aims to reduce the risk of babies developing peanut allergy through skin contact by:

(1) understanding the mechanisms through which this occurs, and

(2) by adapting skin care practices, and through modifications of the way peanut snacks are manufactured to reduce the load of peanut protein in the environment.

The TRANS-FOODS project is an international collaboration, with leaders in their respective fields from the UK, Germany, and France. Researchers are investigating the effects of food processing on the solubility of peanut protein and its components in oil, and how this relates to skin exposure to peanut protein. They will also examine the effect of peanut protein skin contamination. Immune system activation induced by massage, and peanut exposure to the skin, are also being studied in volunteers with dry skin and/or eczema. Findings will be translated through working with an industrial peanut processing partner, patients and consumers.

The research team is working with the food industry, the National Eczema Society and Allergy UK, as well as national and international food standards agencies, to ensure stakeholder awareness, and that the research findings are translated into improved public health measures, ultimately to prevent peanut allergy.

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