Thursday, 12 June 2008

New standardised allergy testing across europe shows way forward.


Allergy testing is notoriously unreliable from test to test as there can be large differences in the results given by different versions of the same test on the same person. This can be due to differences in the allergen preparations used to test the allergy - one frequently contains more allergen than another as the quantity of allergen present can be very difficult to control

This summary of a presentation to the 27th European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology Congress (EAACI) describes the use of a standard test panel across Europe:

"Inhalant allergens tested as the GA2LEN standard prick-test core panel included Aspergillus, cat, dog, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Dermatophagoides farinae, blatella, hazel, alder, birch, plane, cypress, olive, grass mix, artemisia, ambrosia, alternaria, cladosporium, and parietaria, with further region-specific antigens added. Histamine 1:100 was used as positive control, diluent as a negative control."

Comparisons could now be made between countries whereas before each country would have used different versions of the same test. Interesting results included widespread sensitisation to pet hairs and mites across Europe and unexpected reactions such as southern European people reacting to tree pollen found only in the north of Europe!

Aspergillus was tested for but the results aren't mentioned - regardless standardisation of allergy testing across the whole of Europe can only be a good thing as a more compete picture of allergy is built up over time. Correlating this data with disease such as asthma & sinusitis could give valuable clues about what is causing the illness.

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