Improved warnings for pollen

Home Technologist 08 Improved warnings for pollen

Pollen forecast!

Birch pollen grain, SEM

If you suffer from hay fever, pollen warnings can be extremely useful in helping you manage your allergies. Trouble is, most pollen- detection methods still rely on time-consuming manual microscopic analyses. Now there may be an alternative: the particle analyser 300 (PA-300), developed by Geneva-based start-up Plair. The device uses lasers to provide fully automated, real-time detection of airborne pollens. The PA-300 can identify various pollen species as well as other particles such as air pollutants. The Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences recently selected it for its research.

People allergic to birch pollens often also have reactions to foods like celery, nuts, apples, kiwi and soy. This is due to “cross-reactivity”, a phenomenon in which the immune system recognises structures similar to those of the birch in other sources.

Non-allergenic substances in pollen heighten the immune response
Up to now, research into pollen allergies has largely focused on allergens – those components of pollen that trigger hypersensitivity reactions. When it comes into contact with the nasal mucous membrane, however, pollen releases a host of other substances in addition to allergens. In a pilot study, a team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München investigated for the first time the effects of these substances on allergy sufferers. It emerged that the non-allergenic components of pollen have a significant influence on the way the body reacts. The results of the study suggest that it may be time to rethink the current methods of treating allergies.

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