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Media Room October 13, 2022

FARE Innovation Award Diagnostic Challenge Presented to Beckman Coulter Life Sciences

$1,000,000 Awarded to Advance Innovation in Food Allergy Diagnosis

UPDATED: October 26, 2022 to more accurately reflect Diagnostic Award Winners

October 13, 2022 (McLean, VA) – FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), the nation’s leading non-profit organization engaged in food allergy advocacy, and the largest private funder of food allergy research, announces that a team headed by Beckman Coulter Life Sciences is the winner of the first stage of the FARE Innovation Award Diagnostic Challenge. The $1,000,000 prize will help foster the development of improved testing methods for the diagnosis of food allergies.

The award-winning team, an industry and academic collaboration based in Europe and the United States, is led by principal investigator Jean-Marc Busnel, Ph.D., Senior Staff Research Scientist for Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, working closely with investigators at FARE Clinical Network sites including the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Discover Together Biobank at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, as well as the Data Coordination Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   

The FARE Innovation Award Diagnostic Challenge is a multi-year global research competition to improve the availability, accuracy, and safety of food allergy testing. An independent panel of judges unanimously concluded the winning proposal was the most promising path forward to develop and validate an alternative to the oral food challenge (OFC), the current “gold standard” protocol for food allergy diagnosis.

“This winning team has proposed a plan that aims to transform and simplify food allergy diagnosis on behalf of the patient community and healthcare providers,” said Dr. Bruce Roberts, Chief Research Strategy and Innovation Officer for FARE. “We look forward to supporting the research team’s success and applaud them for their pioneering efforts on behalf of the food allergy community,” he continued.

When a patient reports an allergy to a specific food, OFC testing requires that the patient eat that food in gradually increasing amounts while under medical supervision. At present, OFC is the most accurate way to diagnose or rule out a true food allergy, and is also used by regulatory agencies to evaluate the efficacy of new treatments. While generally safe, OFCs expose allergic patients to potentially serious food allergy reactions. Development of an accurate, easy-to-use alternative to the OFC will remove significant barriers to food allergy diagnosis, management, treatment, and clinical research.

The prize-winning diagnostic strategy proposed by the Beckman Coulter Life Sciences team is based on a next-generation basophil activation test, an approach to food allergy diagnosis currently employed in research settings. Blood drawn from a patient is first exposed to food proteins (allergens). Then, the blood sample is analyzed to assess whether blood cells called basophils have responded to the food protein in ways that indicate the potential for allergic reaction. 

Current basophil activation tests are time-sensitive, limiting broader utilization and opportunities for standardization and commercialization. The team proposes to extend the useful life of blood samples and to develop miniaturized, high-throughput methods that enable testing for multiple food allergies using conventional laboratory equipment.

“We are honored to have been selected for this FARE Innovation Award to create an accurate, accessible, user-friendly test for food allergies,” said principal investigator Dr. Busnel. “Beckman Coulter Life Sciences is a recognized global leader in laboratory automation and innovation, as well as a preferred partner in research laboratories. We are confident the food allergy community will benefit from our collaboration with FARE and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai on this  project as we work together to accelerate answers and realize life’s potential with a better understanding of food allergies.”

The FARE Innovation Award Diagnostic Challenge is made possible by its generous supporters, including the Naddisy Foundation, the Carter Family, Nestlé Health Science, the Trachte Family, the Hittman Family Foundation, Dr. Louise Matthews and Thomas Flickinger, Wende Fox Lawson and Jim Lawson, Stacy and Ron Klein, and an anonymous donor.

For more information about the FARE Innovation Award Diagnostic Challenge, visit: www.foodallergy.org.

About Beckman Coulter Life Sciences
Life sciences. Research. Precision manufacturing. If your life’s calling is in any of these or related fields, you need to know Beckman Coulter Life Sciences. Our mission is to empower those seeking answers to life’s important scientific and healthcare questions. Since 1935, the Beckman name has been synonymous with technologies that simplify and automate complex biomedical testing. Decades later, our global organization also came to embody the scientific legacy of the Coulter name. Today, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences is a trusted, worldwide resource for tools to help optimize research and manufacturing efficiency. Centrifuges. Particle counters/analyzers. Automated liquid handlers. Flow cytometers. Genomic reagents. All these products—and many more—continue to make a difference in people’s lives by improving the productivity of dedicated scientists, quality control experts and others. Wherever people need answers, from prestigious universities and major pharmaceutical companies, to small biotech startups, food/beverage and electronics manufacturing facilities, you can find Beckman Coulter Life Sciences. For more details, visit beckman.com/contact-us.

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About FARE

FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is the nation’s leading non-profit engaged in food allergy advocacy and the largest food allergy charity supporting research. FARE’s innovative education, advocacy and research initiatives transform the future of food allergy through new and improved treatments and prevention strategies, effective policies and legislation, and novel approaches to managing the disease. To learn more, visit: foodallergy.org.

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