Over the last 50 years, allergies have become a major health issue affecting approximately 20% of adults and more than 30% of children in developed countries. Allergies impair the life quality of affected individuals and diagnosis/treatment is costly for health care systems. In the EU, the avoidable indirect costs of patients insufficiently treated for allergy is estimated to range between 55 and 151 billion Euro per year. A key issue towards fighting this allergy epidemic lies in the diagnosis of allergies, which is still limited by expensive, low throughput methods allowing to test only a few dozens of allergens at once. Yet, several thousands of allergens have been reported in the literature and cost effective methods for testing hundreds or even thousands of allergens are highly sought after.
Here, we propose a novel high throughput method (AllergenDetect) enabling to test more than 3000 protein allergens in parallel within a single test, relying on our ERC-funded technology. Instead of cumbersomely purifying protein allergens from natural sources, we will apply synthetic DNA libraries to produce allergens using expression systems commonly applied in biotechnology. Our method greatly expands the throughput of allergen testing compared to state of the art methods and allows for the first time to systematically test all known protein allergens at a fraction of today’s cost and within a single assay. In the first phase, we plan to market this technology as diagnostic kits to hospitals and analytic laboratories that have the required infrastructure already in place. For patient samples from private practitioners, specialized allergists, and individuals seeking allergy testing on their own, we are planning to launch a spin-off laboratory directly performing these AllergenDetect tests.
Fields of science
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