Scientists from the UK have a new and more accurate blood test to diagnose allergy to peanuts. Peanuts are a common fatal food that causes anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions. One in 55 children from the UK has a peanut allergy.
According to researchers from the Medical Research Council (MARC), the new test blood is 98% accurate, whereas previous skin-prick or other blood tests produced many false positive results.
The previous tests looked for antibodies, but they couldn’t tell between sensitivity and real food allergy.
And that leads to a further test, which implied feeding the patient a large dose of peanut in a hospital and waiting for confirmation of the allergy, which can also trigger anaphylactic shock. That also required an allergist and specialist nurses, all of it going for around $1,400. But the new blood test costs five times less.
“The Technology Has Evolved”
The leader of the research, MRC scientist and pediatric allergist at King’s College London, Dr. Alexandra Santos has developed a new test to save money on testing and to reduce the stress on the long and expensive testing in hospitals. Santos explains that with scientific advances, we can now detect more signals in the blood:
“The technology has evolved. Now we have better ways to look at immune cells and to see how they respond.”
The tests target mast cells, which are important in triggering allergic symptoms. Santos and her colleagues have published their study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology after involving in their research 174 children. They tracked the children’s allergies and the severity, realizing that the children with more severe allergies have many mast cells activated.
Not the researchers are looking into rolling out tests after teaming up with a commercial partner. They also plan to adapt their test to other foods that cause allergies (milk, eggs, sesame and so on).
The tests are great when treatments for peanut allergies will be approved. This way, they could also monitor the patients’ response to the treatments.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.