Emerging Trends: Taking the Fight to Food Allergies

Published in FSD Update

The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (UPMC) and two middle school students in Fairfax County Public Schools are working on food allergy projects.

For sufferers of food allergies, relief may be in sight. Two separate groups of “researchers”—the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (UPMC) and two middle school students in Fairfax County Public Schools—are working on food allergy projects. 

A peanut allergy patch?
UPMC is one of 10 worldwide participants working to desensitize sufferers’ reactions to peanut allergies by wearing a patch—think of smoking cessation patches. The patch contains a peanut protein, and the researchers are testing to see if by being exposed to small amount of peanut protein over time, whether sufferers’ allergic reactions are lessened. 

A food allergy detector?
For the Toshiba Explora Vision contest, two students in Virginia created a prototype of a food allergy detector. The device works like this: A UV laser beam is emitted onto a food item, which detects scattered light. Some of that scattered light shifts in frequency, called the Raman Spectrum. The Raman Spectrum is unique to every substance, therefore creating a fingerprint, if you will, for each food item. The detector picks up the Raman Spectrum from the food and processes it to determine if the food contains any of 50 common food allergies.