A microchip and a blood sample for allergy testing: launch of the IntegrAL project
One drop of blood will determine in a few minutes whether children have an allergy. The IntegrAL project, coordinated by a team of Italian researchers at the University of Bologna, aims to create a new generation of non-invasive allergy tests for children.
The project will focus on the development of microchips containing special nanoparticles able to detect the presence of allergies starting from the behaviour of blood cells. Every time an allergy occurs, in fact, traces of the inflammation triggered by the allergic process remain in the blood, even when the symptoms seem to have disappeared.
The innovative tests developed during the IntegrAL project will be able to detect these traces in the blood through special microchips containing molecules that recognize “integrins”, ie proteins that determine the ability of the cells of the immune system to adhere to the different tissues.
“Thanks to the different adhesion shown by each type of cell, the cells will be separated and quantified on the microchip”, explained Luca Gentilucci, Professor at the University of Bologna and coordinator of the research project. “This will make it possible to obtain on the chip different cell patterns depending on the different allergic forms. These devices”, added Professor Gentilucci, “will allow a diagnostic approach that can be rapidly implemented as routine tests not only in any clinical analysis laboratory or surgery, but also in hospitals and pharmacies”.
The IntegrAL project has received funding from Fondazione del Monte of Bologna and Ravenna.