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article imageAlgorithm predicts milk allergic outcomes to immunotherapy

By Tim Sandle     Dec 16, 2018 in Health
A new technique enables medics to predict if a milk-allergic patient will respond to milk oral immunotherapy (Milk-OIT), with a significant accuracy and detail. This should provide greater comfort to those will milk allergies.
Milk allergy is a type of adverse immune reaction to the proteins found in cow's milk. When allergy symptoms these can include anaphylaxis. Other symptoms include atopic dermatitis and inflammation of the esophagus. The allergy occurs due to a reaction within the body’s immune system.
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) has been introduced in past few years as a type of immune-modulating treatment for milk, as well as other food, allergies. Specific Milk-OIT therapy can be effective for many will milk allergies; however, Milk-OIT does not work for everyone. Until now there is no way to stratify and predict patient outcomes for this therapy.
New research from Dr. Hugh Sampson of AllerGenis (a food allergy diagnostics company) shows how a milk allergy diagnostic assay can accurately give patients and their doctors actionable information about whether Milk-OIT can provide them with sustained relief.
The new assay uses the body’s own “defect” for a definitive diagnosis. The approach involves breaking down the allergenic proteins in foods into smaller peptides, called epitopes, and then measuring their reactivity to a patient’s antibodies to develop precise antibody-epitope reactivity profiles.
Through the tests the researchers were able to use the peptide-based immunoassay to subdivide allergenic milk proteins into smaller peptide fragments (or epitopes). They then measured the reactivity of the epitopes to a specific antibodies for an individual patient. This formed a distinct antibody-epitope reactivity profile for each patient Hence the researchers were able to apply their technology to produce profiles for each patient sample, and then used these data, together with a machine learning platform, in order to build an algorithm.
Following this development step, the algorithm was applied to predict patients’ probability for sustained tolerance to milk allergens, after treatment is completed. The team found that it was able to predict these outcomes with 87 percent accuracy, more than what is possible with models they built using standard serum component protein assays.
Based on the results, Dr. Bob Getts, who is the Chief Science Officer at AllerGenis, said: “We’ve been confident for some time now that high-throughput, next-generation technologies could dramatically improve food allergy diagnostic, prognostic and predictive precision. These results demonstrate that. Our goal is to get this technology and approach into the hands of clinicians.”
Going forwards, AllerGenis’ aims to further modernize the food allergy diagnostics space, which is an area of medical inquiry has not advanced significantly in recent years.
The research has been published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The research paper is titled “A new Luminex-based peptide assay to identify reactivity to baked, fermented, and whole milk.”
More about Immunotherapy, Milk, Allergy, Food
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