FIRST AIRED: May 3, 2018

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Transcript

00:00:00
>> There were a couple of patients that unexpectedly reacted with quite severe reactions, which is what can happen. We really need to find better ways. We need to find better tests to diagnose food allergies.>> Dr. Alexandra Santos is describing patients who had bad reactions while testing for food allergies, after a first round suggested they were low risk.
00:00:23
But a new method for testing peanut allergies, developed by her team from Britain's Medical Research Council, appears to be much more accurate and safer.>> And I'm really hoping that it will be useful for food allergies as well. Cuz it can really help patients.>> Here's how. The standard that's been employed for decades typically comes in two phases.
00:00:44
First, patients are given a blood test that looks for the antibodies associated with allergies. The problem is that's highly inaccurate. So for about half, a follow-up test is needed in which patients are given incremental doses of food while doctors observe their condition. And that can be very stressful.
00:01:02
It's what led to that bad scenario Dr. Santos recalled for us.>> If we can measure->> Her new system is way more accurate. Instead of antibodies, it uses so-called mast cells, which play a role in physical symptoms like skin reactions or when your airways constrict.>> 98% of children with a positive test would be allergic, so this is how much more specific it is.
00:01:25
>> It means that doctors should already know how severe an allergy is before they do the food doses. It's also way faster, days as opposed to weeks or months. Dr. Santos's method is being adapted now for other allergies like milk and eggs.