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Allergy quick test for emergency medicine

Novel hybrid nanoparticles enable ex vivo allergy detection based on histamine-induced fluorescence recognition.

The novel hybrid nanoparticles prove an allergic reaction by histamine-induced fluorescence. If high doses of histamine are present in a blood sample, the fluorescent dye is released and, after excitation with LED, is detectably illuminated. (Picture: Institute for Inorganic Chemistry / KIT)

In modern industrial societies, about one third of the population is affected by allergies. The symptoms range from mild complaints, such as sneezing and rhinitis, to acute life-threatening reactions, known as anaphylaxis. If a patient is unresponsive in a medical emergency, the exclusion of anaphylactic shock as a cause is important in deciding on life-saving emergency medical measures.

State of the art

The detection of an allergic reaction taking into account the most important symptom triggers, such as histamine or serotonin, is expensive and time-consuming using standard laboratory equipment. In vitro tests measure antibodies or inflammatory messengers in blood serum. Alternatively, provocation tests, such as the prick test, are used, which are not without risk for the patient. Here, the patient is deliberately exposed to the suspected allergens in order to prove a possible intolerance.


Scientists at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry (AOC) use new hybrid nanoparticles with which a significant histamine release as a characteristic of an allergy can be quickly detected even in an acute emergency. The solid particles consist of inorganic metal cations in which a fluorescent dye is bound as an organic anion. The nanoparticles can be used either as a substrate or as a suspension. If histamine is present in the blood sample or blood serum due to allergy, the fluorescent dye is displaced by the histamine on contact with the hybrid compound and is thus released. When the sample is finally irradiated with a high-intensity LED light as the excitation source, the visible fluorescence confirms an existing allergic reaction. The primary aim of this test is the immediate detection of an allergic reaction rather than the determination of the specific allergy trigger.


The test methodology based on hybrid nanoparticles allows allergy detection within a few minutes, whereby histamine as an allergy mediator can be detected clearly and without major laboratory effort. The method is therefore suitable as a quick test in emergency situations, for reliable differentiation from other acute diseases.

Options for companies

Histamine-induced fluorescence was successfully detected in cell tests (proof of concept). KIT is looking for industrial partners to further develop and elaborate a reproducible quick allergy test kit for emergency medicine.

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Your contact person for this offer

Jan-Niklas Blötz
Innovation Manager New Materials, Climate and Environment
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Innovation and Relations Management (IRM)
Phone: +49 721 608-26107
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