AllerScreening, a novel solution for the diagnosis of food allergy

A European Project coordinated by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid will develop a new technology for detecting food allergies, which will enable its diagnosis in a simple and quick way.


Food allergy is a common condition worldwide whose prevalence is rising dramatically in both developed and developing countries. In the US, it affects 5% of children under five and 4% of teenagers and adults. It is estimated that over 6% of the global population, around 200 to 250 million people, suffer from some food allergies, affecting more than 17 million people only in Europe. Three million European allergic patients are younger than 25 years old. The sharpest rise in food allergies is amongst children and young people., specially in the number of life-threatening allergic reactions in children. For this reason, it is very important to improve the diagnosis of these diseases to implement specific treatments as soon as possible.


The main goal of this project is to transfer an already proven optical diagnosis technology (AllerScreening) to the clinical routine, addressing an urgent healthcare need. Unique features of AllerScreening will allow the precautionary detection of main food allergies (at least 90% of European food allergies) through a simple test with a drop of serum, cutting down the cost and technical requirements of the current clinical practice. This new and innovative cost-effective sensing system for the in vitro diagnosis of the components of food allergies will be feasible thanks to the multiplexed disposable BioKits, which allow simultaneous detection of many analytes in a sample, and the optical Point-of-Care (PoC) reader, on which the novel AllerScreening platform is based, allowing the adoption of a novel PoC diagnosis device specific for food allergies. This technology will allow end-users to early detect main food allergies components through a simple multiplexed test, provide accurate information for confirming or discarding diagnosis in minutes in a more efficient and simpler way than the current methods, through a Point-Of-Care label-free diagnosis device.



Scheme of idea of Allerscreening system.A) Point Of Care platform: optical reader. B) Disposable biokit: surface with multiple wells (BICELLs) for sample analysis. C) Detail of bicells, functionalized with different allergens. D) Application of drop of sample to the biokit. E) Detection of specific biomarkers in each bicell.


The Project, that counts on a budget of €4.7 million, is coordinated by researchers from two centres of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM): Araceli Díaz-Perales, from the Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas (CBGP UPM-INIA) and Miguel Holgado Bolaños, from the Centro de Tecnología Biomédica (CTB). Thanks to the technology developed by these two centres, UPM leads this Project where main users are European hospitals. In addition, part of this diagnosis device is licensed to BIOD S.L. Company, created by the Photonic and Biophotonic Optics group for the development of the final product. Furthermore, several others European institutions participate in the Project, such as the Spanish CQS and the German Microfluid ChipShop companies, the Servicio Andaluz de Salud, the Consejería de Salud de la Junta de Andalucía, the Clinica San Carlo from Milan and three European universities: Antwerp, Medical University of Vienna and Technical University of Munich.


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