Allstate Life Insurance Company is taking part in a study to see if a simple skin test could help underwriters evaluate the risk that policy applicants will develop coronary heart disease.[@@]

Allstate Life, a subsidiary of Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill., is participating in the Predicts Atherosclerosis Risk and Events clinical trial study. The “PREPARE” study is evaluating the Prevu skin test with IMI International Medical Innovations Inc., Toronto, developer of Prevu, and McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Guelph, Ontario.

Applicants for life insurance typically undergo a blood test as part of their assessment for risk of coronary artery disease.

Prevu study researchers will use an adhesive strip to collect dead skin cells from individuals. The researchers then will use the Prevu test to measure the amount of sterol, or skin tissue cholesterol, that has accumulated in the dead skin cells. The developers of Prevu hope the sterol level in the collected skin cells will correlate closely with the level in other body tissues.

“Allstate is always looking at new technology to make our underwriting process simpler for our customers,” says Matt Easley, vice president of life products at Allstate Life.

Allstate will look closely at the study results to see if the skin test is an acceptable alternative to blood testing, Easley says.

The company will offer the Prevu test to policy applicants who are willing to take part in the trial, but results from the trial will not be used in the application review process, Allstate says.