A research group from the University of Bern and Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, has developed a new test that simplifies the diagnosis of allergies and also predicts therapy success.
The allergy test has been developed by creating a new in vitro cell culture that can generate almost any desired number of mature mast cells within a few days using molecular biological methods.
During the test, the mast cells will be brought into contact with blood serum from an allergic individual and stimulated with allergens.
University of Bern Department for BioMedical Research (DBMR) group leader Alexander Eggel said: “We were surprised and delighted to see that our mast cells could be activated at almost 100%. To our knowledge, there are no comparable cell lines that can be activated so well.
“Another important advantage is that the test works with serum, which is very stable and can be stored frozen for a long time, which also allows retrospective tests and studies.
“In contrast, other comparable tests use whole blood, which cannot be stored and must be processed within hours.”
According to the university, the most widespread form of allergy is type I allergy, which is also known as immediate-type allergy.
This type of allergy includes food allergies, allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis or allergies to insect venoms, pollen, grasses or house dust mites.
Allergic symptoms can include redness and swelling of skin, itching or shortness of breath.
The researchers have also developed an approach where up to 36 conditions can be measured in a single test tube.
This high-throughput approach enables either multiple allergens being tested with one blood serum or multiple sera being tested together for the same allergen.