New York: Researchers have developed a new blood test that could predict the intensity of a patient's allergic reaction to peanut consumption.
Based on initial results, the researchers noted that the new test is many times more sensitive than current procedures.
"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 a while," said James Rusling, professor at the University of Connecticut in the US.
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 a compound called histamine, which is involved in regulating physiological function in the gut.
This process 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.
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 study said.
The new allergy test 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.
While the trial test was limited to just a few allergic components from peanut glycoproteins, Rusling said it could be expanded to screen for more than 20, allowing for even more selective results.