Taking the pain and risk out of allergy testing

A skin patch the size of a quarter could make allergy testing safer, faster, and pain-free.

The Band-Aid like patch developed by two University of Waterloo alumni can be placed on the forearm to accurately detect allergies in 15 minutes without scratching, piercing, or irritating the skin.

The ExVivo patch, created under the startup ExVivo Labs, could revolutionize the allergy testing process by allowing consumers to buy patches at a pharmacy and conduct the pain-free test at home. If an allergy is detected, the results can be taken to a specialist for further diagnosis and treatment, similar to at-home pregnancy tests.

“When brainstorming about problems in healthcare we looked into allergy testing and were shocked at how traumatic and painful it can be, especially for children. We knew there had to be a better way than scratching and irritating the skin or drawing blood and waiting days for results,” says Moufeed Kaddoura, co-founder and CEO of ExVivo Labs. “The ExVivo patch makes allergy testing safe, simple, and certain for users, even though the technology behind the patch is anything but simple.”

Eric Blondeel and Moufeed Kaddoura

ExVivo co-founders Eric Blondeel and Moufeed Kaddoura

Each patch uses patent protected technology to detect an allergy and will change colours to indicate if one is present. The technology was designed with children in mind and the team at ExVivo, including co-founder Eric Blondeel, hopes to launch a child-focused peanut patch in the near future.

“Since none of the testing happens on the skin, which is extremely novel for allergy testing, there are no side effects,” says Kaddoura. “The patch also benefits doctors and specialists so they can spend less time doing basic diagnostic tests and more time treating patients with allergies.”

The development of the patch was funded in part by an AC JumpStart – University of Waterloo award. Funded by FedDev Ontario and delivered through the Accelerator Centre in partnership with University of Waterloo, AC JumpStart provides early stage technology startups with the seed capital, mentorship, and market-readiness tools needed to build a business in today’s knowledge economy.

Kaddoura and the team at ExVivo are at the early stage of designing a complementary smart phone application. The app will scan the patch and provide further information such as food and potential allergens to avoid as well as specialists in the user’s area.