According to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers have developed an alternate method to more accurately detect and identify the presence and severity of peanut allergies, without directly exposing patients to the allergen.
A team of chemical and biomolecular engineers at the University of Notre Dame designed nanoparticles, or “nanoallergens”, that mimic natural allergens by displaying each allergic component one at a time on their surfaces. These nanoallergens are used to dissect the critical components of major peanut allergy proteins and evaluate the potency of the allergic response using the antibodies present in a blood sample from a patient.
“The goal of this study was to show how nanoallergen technology could be used to provide a clearer and more accurate assessment of the severity of an allergic condition,” said Basar Bilgicer, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a member of the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics initiative at Notre Dame. The goal of this new testing procedure is to replace the oral food challenge; which requires a patient to ingest small amounts of the offending food to the point of intolerance or anaphylaxis; and skin prick testing, which may have false-positive test results.
“We are currently working with allergy specialist clinicians for further testing and verification of the diagnostic tool using a larger patient population. Ultimately, our vision is to take this technology and make it available to all people who suffer from food allergies.”