European project to diagnose allergy to penicillin and related antibiotics

Led by the Polytechnic Univeristy of Valencia, this project aims to develop a low-cost device that can detect drug allergies within just 30 minutes.

Cobiophad kick offThe Universitat Politècnica de València (Polytechnic University of Valencia, UPV) is at the helm of a new Horizon2020 research project to develop a low-cost biophotonic device that can detect drug allergies within 30 minutes. Going by the acronym “Cobiophad”, short for Compact Biophotonic Platform for Drug Allergy Diagnosis, it also receives funding from the European Technology Platform Photonics 21.

The project will focus on the diagnosis of allergies to the beta-lactam antibiotic group, which includes penicillin, amoxicillin and cephalosporins and is the most prevalent drug allergy in Europe.

Project coordinator and researcher at the UPV’s Interuniveristy Research Institute for Molecular Recognition and Technological Development (IDM), Ángel Maquieira explains: “Current tests for drug allergies mainly take the form of in vivo testing and, although in vitro methods do already exist, they are not especially sensitive and can lead to imprecise diagnoses. They also analyse few allergens, are slow, taking between one and three hours, and expensive, costing around €30 per allergen”.

Not only does Cobiophad aim to reduce the time and cost involved in diagnosing these allergies, but crucially it will ultimately improve the prescription of antibiotics. “This will contribute to improving the health and quality of life of the millions of Europeans that suffer from allergies to beta-lactam antibiotics, as well as to the sustainability of healty systems (Maquieira).

Also taking part in this project, which kicked off last month, are other research groups and companies from around Europe: Sintef (Norway), SONY (Austria), Optoel (Romania), Biotronics (UK), Eurexploit (UK), Dr. Fooke Laboratorien (Germany) and the UPV spin-off Das Photonics. As well as experts from Valencia’s Health Research Institute La Fe and Montpellier University Hospital (France).

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