A recent article in Scientific American revealed that standard allergen tests reveal a false positive 50-60% of the time. This is a major problem, Scientific American explains, because the people who are wrongly diagnosed then have to live in a world of worry – similar to those living with an actual allergy. Moreover, the medical issue responsible for causing the individual’s symptoms then remain untreated. Another consequence to the allergy tests are their potential to cause adverse reactions. In skin tests, the typical procedure used for diagnosing allergies, the skin is scratched with a needle coated with potentially reaction-causing proteins. However, the skin can adversely react in cases of sensitive skin.
Thus far this new test has shown about 95% accuracy, while keeping the patient from directly interacting with a potential allergen.
In an attempt to safely test for allergies in an accurate manner, scientists are developing the basophil-activation test (BAT). Thus far this new test has shown about 95% accuracy, while keeping the patient from directly interacting with a potential allergen. The BAT test works by using some of the patient’s blood, mixing it with allergen proteins, and allowing the blood to respond. If the basophil, a white blood cell that responds to allergens, reacts enough with the proteins, an allergy diagnosis can be made. If this test is fully developed and implemented in the clinical setting, it could completely change the world of allergies.
Shell, E. R. (2015). An Overreaction to Food Allergies. Scientific American, 313 (5). Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/an-overreaction-to-food-allergies/