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Test to improve peanut allergy diagnosis
Date:3/20/2012

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 test would be more cost effective and convenient than standard approaches and minimise over-diagnosis of peanut allergy in the community.

Currently, an oral food challenge 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."

A/Professor Katie Allen said the new test 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 food allergy, by using oral food challenges.

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Contact: Rebecca Scott
rebeccas@unimelb.edu.au
61-383-440-181
University of Melbourne
Source:Eurekalert

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