Novel technologies used in HEDIMED: Portable allergy testing technology

Amidst the rising tide of allergies and sensitivities, such as reactions to specific foods and pollen, CSEM stands as a beacon of innovation through the HEDIMED project. Guided by the expertise of Loïc Burr and Stefano Cattaneo at CSEM’s Landquart research facilities in Switzerland, this transformative technology is poised to reshape the landscape of allergy testing by rapidly identifying immune-mediated responses. The portable solution eliminates painful skin tests and time-consuming lab procedures. With results in just one hour, CSEM’s novel technology promises efficient allergy diagnosis and timely treatment, marking a new era of effective management.

At the core of this advancement lies the portable system that can be easily integrated into a doctor’s daily routine.  The process unfolds as follows:

1. Sample collection: A minute amount of the patient’s blood (merely 80 uL required) is  collected and serum extracted.

2. Sample injection: The small blood serum volume is injected into a single-use microfluidic microscopy slide using an automated incubator system (Figure 1). The incubator serves also to introduce detection antibodies.

Figure 1: The automated incubator system for blood serum injection and the microfluidic slide (copyright: CSEM SA © https://www.csem.ch/)

3. Rapid results: The slide is inserted into the portable CSEM-HEDIMED reader (Figure 2), delivering results indicating the presence or absence of an allergic reaction within seconds. The reader is equipped with user-friendly software to control the device and automatically quantify allergic responses.

Figure 2: New technology for allergy screening based on a portable fluorescence reader with a user-friendly software (copyright: CSEM SA © https://www.csem.ch/)

This pioneering screening method relies on an optical biosensing reaction. The slides customized with various allergens generate a fluorescence signal if an immune-mediated allergic reaction is present. In instances of allergies, Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies produced by the immune system recognize the allergen on the slide. A subsequent reaction with fluorescence-labelled anti-IgE antibodies unveils the specific allergens identified by the patient’s IgEs. The portable reader then precisely quantifies this fluorescence signal within moments.

According to Silvia Demuru, the R&D Engineer at CSEM who manages the project: “This portable innovation has the potential to reshape the rapid allergic response screening, making it accessible in every setting—from clinics and hospitals to possibly homes, by optimizing the sample collection and injection processes.”

The technology’s prowess is evident in its capability to test up to 28 distinct allergens on the same slide, with the theoretical possibility of screening up to 89 allergens, each in triplicate, on the same slide. Furthermore, this game-changing portable reader is incredibly cost-effective, about 40 times less expensive than current commercial systems.

But the journey is far from over. As CSEM ventures into the next phase of this groundbreaking project, we extend an invitation to the scientific community. HEDIMED has offered an excellent environment for the testing showing the high value of this kind of collaborations. Thus, collaborators from industry, academia, or medicine, this is your moment! If you share our vision for swift and efficient diagnosis then join us and be a part of this opportunity to develop and refine this technology, advancing not only allergy diagnostics and management but also the broader landscape of biosensing.

Are you ready to be a part of this scientific journey? Contact us: loic.burr@csem.ch

References:

  1. Islam, N. & Chu, D. K. What is causing the rise in food allergy? A narrative review of risk factors for the development of food allergy in infants and children. Front. Allergy 3, 1–6 (2022).
  2. Anderegg, W. R. L. et al. Anthropogenic climate change is worsening North American pollen seasons. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 118, 1–6 (2021).

 

Contributors

Silvia Demuru, Yevhen Shynkarenko, Hui Chai-Gao, Nicola Hermann, Patricia-Daiana Boia, Peter Cristofolini, Bradley Petkus, Silvia Generelli, Samantha Paoletti, Stefano Cattaneo, and Loïc Burr

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