Cell-on-chip technology improving allergy diagnostics
A quick test can help millions of allergy sufferers
“The technology has two crucial benefits. It lets you know how sensitive the patient is to a particular substance, and can be performed on the patient directly, instead of being sent to the lab”, says Anna Nopp.
The new test can also be performed without provocation, that is, without subjecting the patient to a substance that they are allergic to.
Fast but complete answer
The reason for developing this new test is to increase knowledge of so-called basophil granulocytes – a white blood cell that plays a key role in allergy and inflammation.
“Through a blood sample that passes through the chip, we capture the basophils and can see how many of them are active and how many are not, using fluorescence microscopy. A quick and simple test thereby gives you a complete dose-response curve – a measurement of how sensitive a person is to a substance”, says Anna Nopp.
The need for a reliable and detailed quick test is in high demand by doctors.
“Based on the response, the doctor can determine the amount of allergen the person reacts to and can subsequently adjust the dose of medication. It also allows you to monitor the process over time; for example, children can “grow out of” food allergies – the antibodies are still there but they no longer give rise to allergic conditions and the child no longer requires medication or must avoid the food.”
Decreasing costs for a growing disease
Allergy and hypersensitivity are a growing public disease. In Sweden, three million people are affected; in all of Europe, more than 60 million. A more accurate diagnosis would lead to better treatment, minimise suffering and save a lot of resources.
“For example, the dosage of the expensive but highly effective biological allergy medication called Xolair can be fine-tuned with the help of these test results”, says Anna Nopp.
A clinical proof of concept study is currently underway, which will be followed by a major clinical study to compare the accuracy of the test with allergen provocation, among other things.
“Within five years, we will have the chip and the equipment needed to perform patient-based analyses”, says Anna Nopp.
Updated: 31 May 2017
Text: Jörgen Olsson