(ABC NEWS)- A new blood test could potentially transform the way peanut allergies are diagnosed.
The test, called the Mast Activation Test, is in early stages of testing and won’t be at your doctor’s office any time soon. If its promise delivers, it could be used to help find the peanut allergies earlier, and less expensively, than the system now in place.
Now, if a child shows a reaction to a “skin prick” test, the standard for diagnosing peanut allergies is the oral food challenge (OFC). For that test, patients are fed incrementally larger amounts of peanuts in a medical setting — with a team standing by in case of anaphylactic shock.
The MAT would be a relief for parents, patients and clinicians alike because it would be less expensive and less stressful.
The United Kingdom-based researchers behind the new blood test claim it is accurate, almost eliminates false positives and is five times more cost effective than the OFC.
They also claim it would mean clinicians could eliminate the need for two-thirds of the OFCs currently done.
Details of the new blood test were revealed in a letter to the editorpublished last week in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The test is still in the experimental phase, with no clinical prototype yet. The researchers behind the MAT acknowledge that it needs further study before it could be widely used.
Research suggests that approximately four percent of children and adolescents are affected by food allergies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The MAT blood test is a glimpse of a possible future when it comes to treating and detecting peanut allergies. Other experimental therapies are being tested, as well.