This year’s Allergy season may be over, but before the next one arrives, you may want to figure out exactly what is causing your runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms. And now, making that determination can take no more than five minutes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved what is being heralded as the “world’s most rapid” allergy test. Beginning in 2018, you may be able to test yourself for allergies with nothing more than a single drop of blood and a few minutes.
It’s all thanks to work from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), who actually began developing this high-speed test a few years ago. In 2010, the research was taken over by an EPFL spinoff called Abionic, and today, the resulting test platform is called AbioScope.
It works by combining a drop of your blood with a reagent, then placing this solution on the AbioScope’s mounting plate. Here, your blood is given the opportunity to form molecular complexes with test capsules. Then, using an integrated fluorescent microscope laser, the system checks for what complexes are present, which in turn determines what allergies you may have. In just five minutes, you’ll be able to see initial results on the AbioScope’s screen — full results are said to emerge just three minutes later.
But before you get too excited, we should point out that you’ll only be able to test for the most common of allergies, and only four of them at that. The AbioScope, for now at least, can only tell you if you’re allergic to dogs, cats, common grasses, or tree pollens. While that’s a rather limited group of allergens, these allergens do represent some of the more common culprits behind your symptoms.
The AbioScope system has been approved for use in Europe for quite some time now, and will be hitting American markets in 2018. “There are 25 million adults in the U.S. who suffer from allergic rhinitis, a number that is constantly increasing,” noted Dr. Nicolas Durand, the company’s CEO, in a statement. Hopefully, this system will help those adults determine their triggers, and better treat their allergies.