About 15 million Americans and 17 million Europeans suffer from food allergy as reported by the FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) with a more growing number of allergies each passing day. We live in an era of innovation and advancement and it will not be a surprise if there are new things being discovered each passing minute. With advancement in science and technology, a group of chemical engineers developed a unique way to discovered peanut allergies by using nanoparticles. However, before we talk about how are nanoparticles used to spot peanut allergies, let us look in detail about the topic.
What is a peanut allergy?
Our body has a two-line defense mechanism to outer germs and pathogens that can cause us harm. Similarly, allergies to peanut and other foods is a defense mechanism of our body due to the misinterpreting certain food like peanuts as pathogens and this triggers the histamines, causing the symptoms of allergies. The most common symptoms of peanut allergies are very mild like a runny nose or an itch, but there are extreme reactions that can be life-threatening to some people.
Extreme symptoms like blocked airway, swelling of the throat and a quick decrease in blood pressure. In most countries, peanut allergies are detected by the skin-prick test use allergens or oral food test. Now both this test is very risky and can lead to severe anaphylactic shock. This testing method can get results but there is a good amount of children’s suffering with such allergies and exposing them to such methods is a risk no parent would want to take.
However, with advancement in technology and science researchers are now using nanoparticles to spot peanut allergies, without exposing the patient to the allergens.
What are Nanoparticles?
Nanoparticles are microparticles scaled between 1 to 100 nanometers, and these particles are further classified according to through their diameter. A team of biomolecular and chemical engineers has designed nanoparticles that act exactly as natural allergens by displaying each reacting component individually on their surfaces.
How are nanoparticles used to spot peanut allergies?
These nanoparticles are named “Nano-allergens” by the researchers, which are used by dividing the critical components of major peanut allergy proteins and calculate the strength of the reactions using the antibodies from a patient’s blood sample. In simple words, the nano allergens act as magnifying glass to get a detailed result of the reaction.
As stated by researchers the objective to carry out this study was to show how nano-allergens could be used to provide an accurate assessment to identify an allergic condition. Food allergies are a growing concern in many developing countries and particular is a problem for concerned parents. Research shows that 8% of children below the age of four suffer from food allergies, so it becomes more important for such methods to be implemented on a large scale. There are many downsides to living with an allergy only because the symptoms are rare but with the increasing technology, it is now made easy to get better medication and cure for allergies.