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Main research question/goal
How can we detect allergenic hazelnut proteins qualitatively and quantitatively in food? To reduce the incidence of nut allergies, we aim to develop a diagnostic kit to detect the allergenic components of nuts in all types of food. Food allergies are increasing globally in number, complexity and severity. In the absence of treatment, allergic individuals should avoid the allergen product totally (prevention). Food producers are obliged to accurately label the product they sell. As a precaution, they (too) often include the message: "may contain traces of ...". To correctly deal with the risk of nut allergy, the food industry needs accurate detection and quantification methods that allow for the accurate identification of the allergenic components.

Research approach
In patients with clinically proven hazelnut allergy, we collect the genetic information that encodes for the gene-detecting IgE antibodies from their blood. We isolate and develop recombinant monoclonal antibodies against the three major allergens in hazelnuts. The goal is to use these antibodies to develop molecular diagnostic test kits.

With the newly developed monoclonal antibodies, we strive for an accurate and sensitive detection of hazelnut allergens. These antibodies are useful in detection kits to detect the presence of allergen nut components in minimal amounts, even when the food product has been processed extensively (e.g., baked cookies). For preventive health care (prevention of allergy) this kit is very valuable. Symptoms of hazelnut allergy have been observed after consumption of 6 to 7 mg of hazelnut proteins, quantities similar to a "hidden" contamination of food. Hazelnuts allergies are very serious (fatal or near-fatal) and often prove lifelong persistence in the patient. This is in contrast to other allergies (e.g. milk) that children often outgrow.

Funding provider(s)
ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek

External partner(s)
Universitair Ziekenhuis Gent
Effective start/end date1/04/11 → …

ID: 4152870