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Detecting allergies early: a single drop of blood is all it takes

(Vienna 05 March 2012) Humans develop allergic sensitivity right after birth. “Consequently, early detection is very important so that countermeasures can be investigated promptly in order to prevent more serious forms of the condition than hay fever," says Rudolf Valenta, from the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research. This is now possible with the Allergen Chip, which is used at the MedUni Vienna. All it takes is a single drop of blood to test for allergies.

The MedUni Vienna has played a key role in this chip's development. With it, the body's antibody levels can be screened using just a single drop of blood. This is particularly useful in children: “A tiny prick is all it takes – no blood sample is needed,” says Valenta. “It would be ideal if children were able to go to school with an allergy test in their schoolbags.”  The test with the chip flags up antibodies even if there are no outwardly recognisable symptoms. Parents and teachers would therefore be able to respond promptly and keep sources of allergy away from affected children. 

Fluorescent antibodies
Fluorescent antibodies on the chip help to make the antibodies in the blood visible. The luminous antibodies in the blood are “compared” with the allergens in the chip reader. Says Valenta:  “You immediately see whether there is a risk of developing an allergy and preventative steps can be taken.”

In Austria, around one in five people suffers from some form of allergy. Says Valenta:  “It often starts with hay fever, but very often progresses to asthma and can even produce anaphylactic shock.” So early detection and corresponding treatment are exceptionally important.

“Allergy Day” at the MedUni
On 10th March 2012 at the MedUni Vienna (Hörsaal Klinik am Südgarten) there will be fascinating presentations about the subject of allergies from 10 a.m. onwards.

Service: Latest news from allergy research – Open Doors Day at the MedUni ViennaPublic event as the closing finale for the special research section into allergy research funded at the MedUni Vienna by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Venue: Hörsaal Kliniken am Südgarten, MedUni ViennaDate: Saturday, 10th March 2012, 10 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.