This research project aims to determine whether allergic sensitisation to peanut protein or chicken egg ovalbumin (OVA) can occur via exposure of the skin.
<p>An experimental mouse model will be developed to investigate whether exposure of skin to peanut protein or OVA can lead to allergic sensitisation to these proteins.
<p>Whether this is affected by disrupting the stratum corneum will be assessed by stripping the surface of the skin with cellophane tape to cause mild abrasion.
<p>In order to investigate whether exposure of skin to allergens can affect the development of oral tolerance, the mice will first be exposed to peanut protein or OVA via the skin and then via food.
<p>To determine whether the maintenance of oral tolerance can be affected, the two routes of exposure will be used in the reverse order.
<p>This project aims to determine whether exposure of the skin to food allergens can lead to allergic sensitisation, and whether this is affected by disruption of the stratum corneum.
The skin is constantly exposed to immunogenic agents from the environment. Living skin tissue is normally protected by an outer layer called the stratum corneum which prevents easy access to the skin-associated immune system.
<p>However, the barrier function of the stratum corneum can be disrupted by disease (e.g. eczema-related inflammation) or by physical damage (e.g. abrasion).
<p>Oral exposure to a food allergen can lead to either tolerance or sensitisation to the allergen. The project will also investigate whether exposure to allergens through the skin can prevent the development or maintenance of oral tolerance and promote food allergies.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.