Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 10 - 2020

Sindy Tang, Mechanical Engineering
Stephen Galli, Pathology and Microbiology & Immunology
Kari Nadeau, Medicine and Pediatrics (Allergy & Clinical Immunology)

Anaphylaxis is a poorly understood, severe, systemic, and potentially fatal allergic reaction. Food allergy is a common cause of anaphylaxis. However, metrics to predict anaphylaxis risk in a patient are essentially non-existent. Basophils, the least abundant circulating leukocyte (typically, 0.5-1% of WBC), have been identified to play important roles in allergic inflammation and the onset of anaphylaxis. Mouse models and recent work in humans suggest that basophils play an important role in anaphylaxis, and therefore their characterization could be utilized to evaluate anaphylaxis risk in patients.

Our long-term goal is to develop metrics to better stratify patients at high risk of anaphylaxis. Our approach includes using whole blood samples from clinically-proven and well-characterized peanut allergic subjects and healthy controls, and leveraging our interdisciplinary team’s expertise in engineering and human immunology.

Outcomes and significance: Our method has potential utility for the stratification and management of anaphylaxis risk. Our contribution will be significant, as it is expected to lower the number and the associated medical costs of adverse allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, due to food allergy.