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Milk allergen research may benefit food allergies as a whole

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Swiss researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have reported finding a fast and accurate method for determining which milk proteins are producing allergic reactions in specific patients – and they believe their technique could work for other allergens.

The researchers' study, published in Analytical Chemistry, posits that the technique could improve the speed and efficacy of therapies designed to prevent life-threatening reactions.

New method is faster and cheaper than current tests

The team used a technique called immunoaffinity capillary electrophoresis to examine each patient's antibodies for information about specific allergens. Knowing that allergic reactions increase IgE antibody production, the researchers isolated those antibodies from blood samples by running them through extremely narrow glass tubes ("capillaries") and added magnetic beads coated in a second antibody that binds with IgE.

Flushing the beads from the tube, the bound particles of IgE were sent through another clean capillary tube where milk was then injected. They then observed which milk proteins the IgE bound with. The binding was consistent enough that the proteins were obviously the "culprit" in the allergic reaction. Further tests clarified this.

The method is faster and cheaper than current, commonly-used tests for allergens. They believe that the test method could be used for other allergens and could aid both diagnosis and therapy as well as further research.

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