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abbieSense: Anaphylaxis Diagnostic

An electrochemical sensor platform technology that can quickly diagnose anaphylaxis based on histamine levels

The molecule histamine plays a primary role in the anaphylaxis reaction, which is a major cause of illness and death in people with severe allergies. Histamine is a very small molecule composed of only seventeen atoms, making it a challenging target to detect. To date, no diagnostic test exists that can measure histamine levels accurately and quickly enough to confirm when a patient is experiencing an allergic reaction – a lack of knowledge that often costs lives.

abbieSense: Anaphylaxis Diagnostic
A novel, highly sensitive molecular sensor together with a first-of-its-kind histamine detector comprise abbieSense, a device that can diagnose and assess the severity of an allergic reaction within five minutes. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

The Wyss Institute is developing a novel electronic microsensor that is capable of detecting clinically relevant concentrations of histamine and other small molecules within five minutes, offering hope for the 15 million Americans who suffer from allergies. The microsensor is equipped with a first-of-its-kind nanocomposite coating that prevents the non-specific accumulation of blood components on the sensor surface and retains over 80% of its electronic sensitivity, even after being stored for a month in whole human plasma.

We want to develop an anaphylaxis detection system that is small, portable, integrated, and easy to use, so that patients with allergies can be alerted as soon as an allergic reaction starts and seek life-saving treatment immediately.

Pawan Jolly

In addition, this same histamine detection technology can be used in the hospital or doctors’ offices to quantitatively sense patient responses to allergens during desensitization procedures. The Wyss’ electrochemical sensor platform technology also could be applied to detect a broad spectrum of biomolecules that would be useful for medical applications that extend far beyond anaphylaxis or allergy.

abbieSense, a new technology from the Wyss Institute, can detect histamine levels in human body fluids and determine the severity of an allergic reaction, which could help save the lives of patients with severe allergies. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

This technology is part of the Wyss Institute’s Project ABBIE, and is undergoing further development.

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