Research Underway to Identify Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) Biomarkers

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic inflammatory disorder in children and adults that causes injury to the esophagus. At the present time, the only way to make the diagnosis and follow the response to therapies is by repeated endoscopies of the upper GI tract to obtain tissue biopsies for examination under the microscope.

This creates a heavy burden on patients and families. The procedure is invasive and has inherent risks. It is also expensive, causes missed school days, and forced time off from work for the parents.
Currently, there is no highly sensitive and specific non-invasive blood test available to monitor the disease.
Gastroenterologists Barry Wershil of Lurie Children's and Children’s Research Center of Chicago and Amir Kagalwalla of Lurie Children's have joined forces with molecular biologist Steven Ackerman of the University of Illinois at Chicago to investigate a panel of non-invasive biomarkers in the blood and/or urine of subjects with EoE that may ultimately be used for the diagnosis and assessment of remission, and recurrence or exacerbation of disease. Blood, urine, biopsies and other samples will be obtained from study volunteers and a detailed assessment of the sensitivity and specificity of these biomarkers will be determined. This research is being funded through the HOPE grant from the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED).
Dr. Wershil states: “Children with EoE may have to go through three or four upper endoscopies a year in order to make the diagnosis and assess their response to different therapies. It is the hope of all of us who take care of these patients that a reliable, non-invasive approach can be developed.”
Barry K. Wershil, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, head of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and co-director of the Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases Program at Lurie Children’s, and a member of the Clinical and Translational Research Program and the Center for Intestinal and Liver Inflammation Research at Children’s Hospital of Chicago Research Center. Amir F. Kagalwalla, MD, is Associate professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School, and attending physician in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and co-director of the Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases Program at Lurie Children’s. Steven J. Ackerman, PhD, is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.
For more information contact Peggy Murphy at 773.755.6341 or

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital, is a 23-story, state-of-the-art hospital located in downtown Chicago on the campus of its academic partner, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in the U.S.News & World Report 2013-14 Honor Roll rankings. Lurie Children’s provides pediatric care in a setting that offers the latest benefits and innovations in medical technology, research and family-friendly design. The hospital relies on philanthropic support to care for more than 149,000 children each year.

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