A simple new test to measure the inflammation of the gut in cases of Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) has been developed by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, working in collaboration with clinician-investigators at the University of Colorado Denver/Children's Hospital Colorado and Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.
Whilst not suitable for diagnosing EoE, the new test can measure fluctuations in inflammation once diagnosis has been made by an endoscopy. Previously, children and adults with EoE had to undergo endoscopies as frequently as 20 times over three or four years, and the new test could be performed in a single visit to the doctor's surgery.
EoE is a food-allergy inflammatory disease of the esophagus that affects both children and adults, and although it is rare it is steadily increasing in prevalence. Inflammatory cells in the body called eosinophils attack the esophagus, which narrows until food cannot pass. Because eosinophils produce specific proteins that are not normally found in the esophagus, the new test can measure these proteins as biomarkers to show the extent of inflammation in the gut.
In the new Esophageal String Test, the patient swallows a capsule containing string, which spools out as the dissolvable capsule makes its way down through the esophagus. The string is then removed and secretions from the digestive tract on the string are measured. In testing on 41 patients, the researchers have accurately measured levels detected by the string test and by biopsy.
Source: Gut: An International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
First published in October 2012
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