School of Medicine team wins campus-wide business competition

Rapidly-dissolving microneedles form the basis of a new skin test to determine the severity of a person’s food allergies.

Manish Butte

A School of Medicine team has won the 2014 Stanford BASES E-Challenge for its plan to commercialize a better diagnostic test for food allergies.

The team, Allertope, was awarded $15,000 from the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students. The association’s annual start-up competition, the BASES Challenge, gives prizes in three categories: E-Challenge (entrepreneurship), Social E-Challenge (social entrepreneurship) and Product Showcase (product prototype).

Led by Manish Butte, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric immunology and allergy, and Yasmin Chandrasekher, PhD, business adviser to Allertope and former Stanford postdoctoral scholar, the team invented a method to test the severity of a person’s food allergies.

Current food allergy tests provide no information about whether an allergy is mild, moderate or life-threatening. The team’s test uses microneedles made from rapidly dissolvable polymer to painlessly prick the skin with dozens of tiny doses of epitopes, small portions of protein molecules, from an allergenic food. Reactions to a greater variety of different epitopes from a food indicate a more dangerous allergy.

The team receives funding from SPARK, Stanford’s bioscience incubator, and is seeking funds to commercialize the technology.

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