PS Grendelmeier et al. International archives of Allergy and Immunology. June (2001) Vol.125 #2 p 96.
Tests for allergic sensitisation often rely on skin prick tests using preparations of suspect allergens. Standardisation of such preparations is difficult. This article reviews the success, so far, of producing recombinant allergens using the example of latex allergy.
Latex (produced from Heveae Brasiliensis (Hev b)) contains more than 10 known allergens, some of which are identical to ones found in some fruits and moulds.
Isolated artificial proteins – Hev b 5,6 and 7 when combined into a test preparation have been used to diagnose latex allergy with 93% sensitivity and 100% specificity. Such mixtures can be accurately and reliably reproduced.
Reliable, sensitive and specific skin prick tests are on the way. Other attempts to prepare man made substitutes for natural extracts have been confounded by unsuspected complexity of the natural preparation.
Sensitivity to some plants/plant products could be traced back to latex. Conversely some cases of latex allergy could have originated in (innocent) plant exposure.