Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new ultrasensitive test for peanut allergies

27.02.2015

Current peanut allergy tests are not very reliable when it comes to diagnosing the severity of an individual's allergic reaction, which can range from hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

With an estimated three million people in the United States allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, having a more precise and reliable allergy test could prevent hospitalizations and allow for better monitoring of individuals suffering from peanut allergies.

Three chemists at the University of Connecticut (UConn) are developing a more advanced peanut allergy test that, based on initial results, is many times more sensitive than current procedures. The new test is capable of determining the potential intensity of a patient's allergic reaction through just a few drops of blood.

Understanding how the new test works requires a basic understanding of how allergic reactions happen. When an allergic person eats peanuts, their immune system releases an antibody protein known as immunoglobulin E or IgE. These antibodies fight off peanut allergen molecules by binding to them and flushing them out of the body. But the release of the antibodies causes tissue cells in the body to produce histamine, which in turn generates a variety of allergy symptoms such as itchy skin, runny nose, coughing, or wheezing. The more antibodies that are released, the more histamine is generated, the stronger the person's allergic response.

"A patient who has a serious allergy and gets exposed to an allergen protein will form antibodies in their body that should stay there for awhile," says UConn Professor James Rusling, who specializes in detecting protein biomarkers and used a similar process to detect proteins linked to cancer. "Our theory is that the level of those antibodies can be used to predict how severe a patient's allergy is at any one point in time."

While existing peanut allergy tests can generally measure IgE antibodies found in a blood sample, the presence of other biomolecules can distort the results and they are not always accurate.

The allergy test designed by Rusling, Mark Peczuh and Challa Vijaya Kumar screens out other biomolecules and measures the presence of antibodies that bind to very specific protein fragments, called peptides, and carbohydrate residues found in peanuts.

"The traditional method of measuring these antibodies uses a mixture of all the peanut proteins, not individual parts," says Peczuh, a specialist in carbohydrate synthesis whose daughter has a peanut allergy. "But some of the stuff in the mixture can lead to readings that a patient is allergic when she or he is not. And the converse can be true, where the results show someone is not allergic when they actually are."

In the study of their new system, the UConn chemists tested three components from the most potent peanut allergen. One sample was a protein peptide, another a carbohydrate residue, and the third was a positive control.

The chemists then injected blood serum from patients known to have peanut allergies into the array. As the blood serum floated over the samples, IgE antibodies were pulled down by the allergens and bound by them. They could then measure the quantity of antibodies to determine how strong a reaction a person would have to peanuts. To further refine the system, the team attached magnetic beads to the allergen samples. The beads captured the IgEs and amplified the final measurements, allowing them to detect concentrations of antibodies as low as 0.5-1 picogram per milliliter.

The test results correlated with the patients' known allergy levels from other tests and the team was encouraged to pursue further development of the approach.

While the trial test was limited to just a few allergic components from peanut glycoproteins, Rusling says it could be expanded to screen for more than 20, allowing for even more selective results.

Although the initial results are promising, the time frame for any clinical use of the test is still years away.

"Eventually, we'd like to use maybe five different peptides and carbohydrate samples to see how these IgEs bind to them," says Rusling. "That way, we could determine a clear fingerprint of a patient's susceptibility to a specific allergen."

There has been some debate over the role carbohydrates play in allergies. Because the UConn test has the capacity to test both protein peptides and carbohydrate residues, the researchers hope it can be used to learn more about how specific protein and carbohydrate epitopes bind to antibodies to gain a better understanding of how allergies are induced.

"Our hope is that this could be used as an analytical tool to investigate the actual biology of the allergic response to peanuts and other food items in general," says Rusling. "People have noted that certain carbohydrates may be involved in allergies and we'd like to determine whether they are involved or not."

Media Contact

Colin Poitras
colin.poitras@uconn.edu
860-486-4656

 @UCToday

http://www.uconn.edu 

Colin Poitras | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS

nachricht New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>