Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Food allergies: A new, simple method to track down allergens

Date:
July 2, 2014
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
Scientists have developed a fast and accurate method for determining exactly which proteins cause allergies to milk. The novel approach can extend to other foods as well. Although food allergies are common, sufferers often don't know exactly what in foods cause their allergic reactions. This knowledge could help develop customized therapies, like training the body's immune system to respond to certain proteins found in foods.

Although food allergies are common, sufferers often don't know exactly what in foods cause their allergic reactions. This knowledge could help develop customized therapies, like training the body's immune system to respond to certain proteins found in foods. However, determining which protein in a food causes an allergic response to a patient requires time-consuming tests that often ignore rare or unexpected allergens. Publishing in Analytical Chemistry, EPFL scientists have developed a highly-sensitive method that can quickly and accurately identify the culprit proteins even at very low concentrations. The method has been successfully tested in the context of cow milk allergy.

Food allergies are becoming widespread in the Western world today, affecting around 6-8% of children and about 3% of adults. These types of allergies occur when the body's immune system mistakes a harmless food protein for a threat and attacks it as it would normally do with a bacterium or a virus. This causes symptoms like swelling, rashes, pain, and even life-threatening anaphylactic shocks.

Cow milk allergy is common among children, preventing them from breast feeding and drinking milk, although some outgrow the allergy by six years of age. Allergies, including food allergies, are caused when our immune system produces antibodies to destroy "enemy" molecules, like those from bacteria and viruses. In the case of milk allergies, the antibodies are called "IgE." Medical doctors can diagnose milk allergies by simply detecting an overproduction of IgE, but that does not tell them which one of the numerous proteins in milk -- and other foods -- is causing the allergic response.

The team of Hubert Girault at EPFL has developed a highly-sensitive method that uses a patient's IgE to determine specifically which protein induces allergic responses in them. The method uses a well-established technique called immunoaffinity capillary electrophoresis (IACE). First, IgE antibodies from the patient's blood are isolated by interaction with magnetic beads that are coated with a different type of antibody. The "bead" antibodies recognize and bind the patient's IgE antibodies. This takes place inside a long and narrow glass tube, only 50 micrometers in diameter, called a "capillary." The bound antibodies are then flushed out of the capillary and powerfully attached to the magnetic beads through a process called 'crosslinking', which keeps them from detaching. The beads with the patient's IgE are then placed again inside the capillary.

The test begins when milk is injected through the capillary. As the milk's proteins pass over the patient's IgE antibodies, the ones that cause allergies are caught by them, while the others exit on the other side. The beads are then washed with a strong chemical that causes the allergy-inducing protein to dissociate from the patient's IgE antibodies. The isolated, "culprit" protein is then identified using mass spectrometry, which is a technique that analyzes compounds according to their mass and electrical charge.

The method offers a personalized way to identify the exact proteins that can cause food allergies to a patient, which can help develop an effective treatment. It is also quicker, as it does not require the detection and quantification of a patient's specific IgE antibodies or the laborious and resource-intensive diagnostic methods used currently. Finally, it provides higher accuracy than conventional allergy-testing methods, as it can detect tiny amounts of allergic proteins, even if they are unexpected and rare. This also means that the method can be extended beyond milk to other foods like nuts and wheat products.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Natalia Gasilova, Hubert H. Girault. Component-Resolved Diagnostic of Cow’s Milk Allergy by Immunoaffinity Capillary Electrophoresis–Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry, 2014; 86 (13): 6337 DOI: 10.1021/ac500525n

Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Food allergies: A new, simple method to track down allergens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702102439.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2014, July 2). Food allergies: A new, simple method to track down allergens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702102439.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Food allergies: A new, simple method to track down allergens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702102439.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) — America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins