Medical

Could nasal swabs replace skin-prick allergy tests?

Could nasal swabs replace skin...
Previous research had already suggested that allergy-related antibodies found in the blood may also be present in nasal secretions
Previous research had already suggested that allergy-related antibodies found in the blood may also be present in nasal secretions
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Previous research had already suggested that allergy-related antibodies found in the blood may also be present in nasal secretions
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Previous research had already suggested that allergy-related antibodies found in the blood may also be present in nasal secretions

Although no one likes getting blood samples drawn or having their skin pricked, these are the most common methods of testing for allergies. Thanks to a new study, however, such uncomfortable pokes could soon be replaced with painless nasal swabs.

The research was conducted by scientists at Germany's Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München, led by TUM's Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann. It was centered around an existing diagnostic device called the Immuno Solid‐phase Allergen Chip (ISAC).

That biochip was already known to be capable of detecting antibodies produced by numerous allergic reactions, within blood samples. For the new study, the scientists wanted to see if it could also do so within smears of nasal secretions.

The researchers recruited 47 test subjects who were known to react to airborne allergens such as dust mite castings, grass pollen, and the pollen of birch, hazelnut and alder trees. Two individuals with no known allergies served as a control. Nasal fluid and blood samples were collected from all 49 people, then analyzed using the ISAC.

It was found that the same "allergic sensitization patterns" were detectable in both types of bodily fluid. In fact, although more research is required, it is believed that certain allergy-associated antibodies may be measurable in nasal secretions but not in blood.

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Allergy.

Source: Technical University of Munich

2 comments
Rusty Harris
In the 70's, I took allergy shots. That meant laying on your stomach, having your back rubbed down with alcohol and 50 scratches/jabs in the back. THEN the fun part...your back ITCHES for 20-30 minutes until they figure out what you are allergic to. I could have saved them the time! If it's green, comes out of the ground, has pollen, I'M ALLERGIC to it. Doc came back in and say "oh my!" He had never seen a positive test for RAGWEED so large. Took a double dose of whatever they gave me, to kill the itching burning in my back. 2 years later, knocked it down a bit, but in the late 80's, I had the tests redone and the doctor was amazed how bad I was for pretty much anything green that comes out of the ground. It took FOUR years to get rid of my allergies, but today, I'm about 90% free of "hay fever", although ragweed still gives me a bit of problems, but, OTC medicine takes care of it.
ljaques
Ditto, Rusty. But my allergist said the back was too vulnerable and did them on my arms. In AR growing up, I missed several weeks of school a year to severe allergies. When we moved to CA, it was cut down to a few days. Now up here in OR, I have a couple weeks of sneezes and itchy eyes, but OTC drugs fix that for me, too. I think I would have liked to sub my early experience with nasal swabs, too. It's so much less invasive.