Allergy test

Nottingham University scientists have scooped an award for developing a technique that can test for up to 5,000 different allergens from one drop of blood.


Nottingham University scientists have scooped a prestigious national award for developing a technique that can test for up to 5,000 different allergens from just one drop of blood.


The new basophil-microarray based allergy assay is the brainchild of researchers at NottinghamUniversity’s schools of pharmacy and biosciences, in collaboration with the Centre for Respiratory Research at NottinghamCityHospital.


Their innovation has won them a Da Vinci award in the Breakthrough Technology category, which comes with a £15,000 prize to use towards furthering their research.


Now in their second year, the Da Vinci Awards, which are run through LoughboroughUniversity, recognise collaborative projects that lead to the potential commercialisation of healthcare innovations to save lives and improve services to patients.


The new technology is a lab-based in-vitro test that mimics human allergic reaction.


It could be used as an alternative to the traditional skin-prick test.


It can test up to 5,000 different food or inhalant allergens that could cause an allergic reaction.


The researchers are hoping it could also be developed as a diagnostic tool for parasitic infections.


It works by adding tiny dots of allergen molecules to paper on a glass slide.


A drop of the patient’s blood is added before the slide is incubated with the cells, causing the symptoms of allergy.


Cellular activation can then be analysed to discover which of the allergens are prompting the release of histamine and other chemicals indicative of an allergic reaction in the patient’s blood.


Dr Marcos Alcocer, a lecturer at the Nottingham University School of Biosciences, said: ‘Our technology is one step towards the ultimate goal of being able to have a full in-vitro diagnostic test for allergy.


‘What we have to do now is examine the results of our test further and then assess how well it works compared with the gold standard techniques currently used for diagnosis.


‘We will then be in a very good position for commercialisation.’


A video outlining the work of the winners of the Breakthrough Award and the development of their lab-based test for allergies can be found at www.davinci-net.org