Test to improve peanut allergy diagnosis

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the University of Melbourne have identified a new way to accurately test for peanut allergy.

It is hoped the will be more cost effective and convenient than standard approaches and minimise over-diagnosis of in the community.

Currently, an oral is the standard for diagnosing peanut allergy, and while an oral food challenge is definitive in diagnosing patients, it is time-consuming, costly and patients risk severe reactions such as anaphylaxis.

The new test researchers have identified uses part of the peanut protein called ‘Arah2’ and involves a two-step screening process. Researchers found they could perform a blood test, followed by the Arah2 test, which was more accurate and highly predictive than using one of the tests alone.  They found the two step testing process reduced the need for oral food challenges by four-fold.

Co-lead researcher, Thanh Dang, a University of Melbourne PhD student based at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, said the new test has many benefits.

“By reducing the number of oral food challenges, this helps prevent many peanut allergics undertaking the unnecessary risks involved with an oral food challenge.”

Associate Professor Katie Allen said the could reduce the burden on clinicians and the health care system.

“Due to the rapid increase in rates of sensitisation to foods, allergy services are overwhelmed, and food challenge tests might be difficult to access. This method would help alleviate the current strain and demand on clinical allergy services, with the allergy patient waiting times in excess of 18 months in many centres in Australia,” she said. 

Researchers say the test would also help minimise over-diagnosis, and would reduce the number of patients requiring referral to specialist services for confirmation of a , by using oral food challenges. 

Patients would simply need to visit a GP rather than require a referral to a specialist allergy clinic.

“Due to the long wait times for specialist’s clinics, many clinicians are faced with the difficult task of having to assess the presence of food allergy based solely on a positive skin prick test or other available tests and must err on the side of caution and accept a diagnosis of ‘possible’ food allergy in these situations,” Dr Allen said

“This approach can lead to over diagnosis of peanut allergy in the community and a potentially unnecessary burden on the health care system,” she said.

Diagnosis of peanut allergy is relatively straightforward when there is an obvious history of clinical reaction to peanut ingestion.  However, can be more complicated in cases in which the clinical history is not clear or in children who have not yet been exposed to a food.

Researchers say the ‘Arah2’ twostep process can be used in children with high risk of food allergy, such as those with eczema and other food allergies and for those who haven’t eaten peanuts but have a strong family history of food allergy.

The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Peanut allergies overstated, study finds

May 16, 2007

Despite hundreds of families being told their children have peanut allergies every year, many of the children may be able to eat peanuts safely, a study by researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Sydney ...

Treating peanut allergy through a patch

Mar 02, 2011

Can your peanut-allergic child be treated by simply wearing a patch? That’s what researchers at National Jewish Health are investigating. National Jewish Health, along with four other institutions in the Consortium of ...

New food allergy model for fenugreek developed

Dec 14, 2011

A mouse model to investigate allergy to fenugreek has been developed by Norwegian researchers. The model can also be used to study cross-reactivity to peanut, soy and lupin, major food allergens with public health relevance.

Recommended for you

Researchers discover neuroprotective role of immune cell

Jul 22, 2014

A type of immune cell widely believed to exacerbate chronic adult brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis (MS), can actually protect the brain from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and may slow the ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

roberttalbin
not rated yet Mar 20, 2012

I have always used coupons, but if I thought the generic was cheaper I would just buy that instead of the smaller name brand size or even samples from "Get Official Samples" can help