Carsten FlohrA research consortium led by our clinicians has been awarded over a million Euros through the European Joint Program Initiative to investigate how peanut allergy develops through the skin.

The Trans-Foods project is led by Professor Carsten Flohr from the St John’s Institute of Dermatology, together with Professor Stuart Jones (Pharmaceutical Sciences) and Professor Alexandra Santos (Paediatric Allergy),

Trans-Foods is a partnership between Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College London, University College London and teams from Berlin, Bonn and Paris, joined by the peanut manufacturer Levantine.

Peanut allergy affects around 2% of school age children in the UK and is one of the most common triggers of food allergy-related deaths. Peanut allergy has increased in the last 20 years in the UK and North America. The causes of peanut allergy and the reasons for the increase in allergy rates are currently not fully understood.

Previous research from our teams has shown a number of important risk factors for peanut allergy development. This includes a project finding that more frequent moisturisation in infants, the presence of eczema and an impaired skin barrier in early life are linked to food allergy development.

The Trans-Foods project will expand on this research to understand how peanut allergy may develop through the skin and how it could be prevented.

The project has five main aims:

  • Understand the effects of food processing on the solubility of peanut protein, its components in oils and how this relates to the immune response – led by Stuart Jones from our Pharmaceutical Sciences team and Bonn University.
  • Determine how peanut allergen is transferred through skin-to-skin contact – led by a team at Charité Berlin.
  • Understand the role of oily and non-oily base in the movement of peanut allergen into the skin – led by a team at University College London.
  • Understand the immune responses to peanut allergen in the skin – led by a team at Institute Curie, INSERM Paris.
  • Observe the effects of massage with a peanut-containing solution to study the potential uptake of peanut protein into the skin of healthy adults – led by Carsten Flohr, Stuart Jones and Alexandra Santos at King’s College London.

Project lead Professor Carsten Flohr said: “We are delighted to be leading this European consortium between teams in the UK, Germany and France, bringing together unique complementary research expertise and an industry partner to further our understanding of how peanut allergy develops through the skin. We hope that this will lead to novel methods of food allergy prevention.”