Better treatment of allergies through collaboration between WUR and Rijnstate

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Rijnstate Hospital are to collaborate closely in the Rijnstate Allergy Centre. This collaboration aims to innovate and further improve the diagnostics and treatment of patients suffering from allergies.

WUR immunologists and allergists of Rijnstate Hospital have been collaborating for some time now. Janneke Ruinemans-Koerts works as a clinical chemist at Rijnstate Hospital and has recently been appointed to a part-time position at WUR. She will focus on the implementation of new diagnostic methods. ‘With this collaboration, we hope to bridge the gap between scientific insights and clinical practice’, says Ruinemans-Koerts. ‘Thus, we hope to make new developments accessible and available to patients sooner’.

BAT test

Increasing numbers of people call on their doctor with complaints that could indicate they suffer from allergies. According to experts, some 40% of the Dutch population is estimated to have a food allergy or hay fever. Patients benefit from the collaboration through the development of better and more standardised diagnostics and treatments.

In this respect, the BAT test that was developed by Rijstate in collaboration with WUR is a significant development. In this Basophils Activation Test (BAT), a nutrient is added to a patient’s blood sample. ‘The BAT test is very accurate and impacts the patient far less than the traditional provocation test. Moreover, it is a lot cheaper’, says professor Huub Savelkoul.

Immunotherapy

The scientists and doctors also strive to study options for immunotherapy for people with food allergies. This treatment is already available to people with hayfever. The therapy consists of subjecting the patient to small doses of the substance to which he or she is allergic. This prompts a response in the immune system, which then becomes accustomed to the substance. This reduces the allergic reaction or even stops it altogether. The patient’s symptoms are increasingly alleviated through this method.

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‘Studies are already being conducted on oral immunotherapy for people with food allergies’, says special professor Joost van Neerven. ‘But this is a lot more challenging.’

Gerrit Grijns Initiative

The collaboration with the Rijnstate Allergy Centre is part of the Gerrit Grijns Initiative. Within this research programme, over 25 WUR professors from the nutrition and health domain collaborate with businesses, governments and other knowledge partners to establish innovations in the field of healthy nutrition and preventative health.

The Rijnstate Allergy Centre specialises in allergies and sensitivities such as hayfever, asthma, allergies to medicines, wasps, food and industrial substances. In addition to quality care, the centre’s mission is to improve health care through scientific research and training of health care professionals.

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