Scientists develop new peanut allergy test

 
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London May 4, (TNS): Scientist in Britain have invented a new and accurate blood test which will help to diagnose peanut allergy and will indicate a significant food hazard for an individual.

Most common cause of fatal food-induced severe allergic reactions are peanuts and allergy cases among children have sharply escalated in recent years.

At least one of 55 children and infants have a peanut allergy, Britain’s Food Standards Agency estimated.

Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MARC) reported on Thursday that, In contrast to other blood tests that produce a large number of false-positive results, the new diagnostic has 98 percent specificity.

Current tests which were being used in diagnoses for decades are based on looking for antibodies.

But they cannot discriminate between sensitivity and true food allergy in an individual.

Due to which, doctors often have to conduct a further round of testing in which patients are fed larger doses of peanut in a controlled hospital environment to confirm their allergy.

So-called oral food challenges require the presence of an allergist and specialist nurses and they cost around 1,000 pounds ($1,360) to conduct. The new blood test is five times cheaper.

Dr. Alexandra Santos, an MRC scientist and paediatric allergist at King’s College London, who led the research, believes the new test will not only save money on testing but also reduce by two-thirds the number of stressful oral food challenges that are needed.

“The technology has evolved. Now we have better ways to look at immune cells and to see how they respond,” Santos said.

In the new test, focus is more on mast cells, which play a pivotal role in triggering allergic symptoms, such as skin reactions or constricting of the airways.

A study involving 174 children, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Santos and colleagues showed the new test tracked closely the severity of allergies, with the worst-affected patients having the most activated mast cells.

Dr.Santos said the new blood test could play a crucial role in observing patients’ response to such drugs.