Whether a person is allergic to birch pollen, dust mites, eggs, milk or hazelnuts, most allergen components are proteins. These proteins are referred to as molecular allergens or allergenic components. A person’s immune system may recognize and be sensitized to one or more of these proteins. Molecular allergy helps identify the specific components involved in a person’s allergies, thus assisting improved allergy assessment and management.
Molecular allergy improves our assessment of the risk and severity of allergic reactions in food allergies, including anaphylaxis. An accurate diagnosis of allergies is essential, as this impacts not only the child affected by a food allergy but his or her entire family. Molecular allergy can identify situations where a positive skin test for peanut, nut, hazelnut or soy is misleading. Its results can help guide dietary changes and restrictions. They can also reassure a patient’s uncertainty or fear of an allergic reaction.
In addition, molecular allergy can confirm a diagnosis of oral allergy syndrome or, more specifically, pollen-food allergy syndrome. It is usually associated with birch pollen allergy and is the cause of tingling and even swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue or throat.
When numerous positives show up in a patient’s skin-prick allergy test or traditional allergy blood tests, molecular allergy will help confirm true allergies and point to the most appropriate and effective immunotherapy. Whereas molecular allergy has been used in Europe since the early 2000s, interest has been slow to develop among North American allergists. Well-established in the field of allergy, AVANT GARDE Médical™, a private ENT – Allergy clinic is a pioneer in molecular allergy in Quebec, using this advanced form of testing since 2011!