As few as 50 particles per cubic metre of air are sufficient to trigger an allergic reaction.
The biochemical processes in the human organism are well known, however, molecular processes in nature are not so well understood yet.
How and under what conditions do pollen grains release their contents and active substances? Do heat and humidity play a role? What is the influence of pollutants (trace gases, soot particles) whose concentrations in densely populated areas often reach high values? Which methods can be used to precisely analyse flower pollens in nature?
The BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing is currently investigating these relationships in a research project where the scientists use sensitive spectroscopic methods, primarily Raman spectroscopy and its particularly sensitive advancement, the surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Detection corresponds to a spectroscopic finger print which reflects the chemical composition of the samples.
Pollen samples of as many plants as possible will be analyzed; meanwhile the spectra from more than 50 kinds of pollen have been recorded. Information on the numerous components and active substances of pollen from different species will be systematically compiled in an extensive data base. In addition, this data base will create the basis for a new measurement network which will enable automatic and rapid classification and identification of different pollen species.
This automatic and precise recognition technology could provide an important contribution to the quality assurance of recombinant pollen allergens. These biotechnologically active substances are used e.g., in immunotherapy for desensitising patients to pollen allergens.
Dr. Ulrike Rockland | idw
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