Last week, our science team’s research was published in one of the most prestigious scientific journals: Scientific Reports, published by Nature Publishing Group.
The paper builds on our first publication from May in Food Chemistry, which laid the foundation for our detection platform. This more recent paper introduces some of the more novel aspects of our sensing method, and expands on our food testing capabilities.
Peer-reviewed publications can be dense, so we thought we’d break down the significance of our paper in layman’s terms.
Foods are complex. They often contain large numbers of diverse ingredients, which vary in acidity, oil content, and texture. These variables require that we perform extensive food testing to ensure the Amulet can accurately determine the presence or absence of allergenic ingredients even in the most ingredient-diverse and complex dishes. As part of our testing, we selected a wide range of foods to maximize the range of complexity, ingredients, and textures.
We must also show that our sensors work consistently and at clinically relevant levels—the lowest amount of allergen that triggers an allergic reaction in the most sensitive food-allergic individuals.
Historically, our core technology has been known for its highly sensitive and selective properties, which translates to low rates of both false positives (e.g., detecting allergens in allergen-free foods), and false negatives (e.g., failing to detect allergens in allergen-containing foods). To evaluate these parameters, we tested a wide assortment of foods: approximately half contained our target allergen, and the other half did not. We then benchmarked our technology against standard commercial allergen detection kits: lateral flow devices (LFDs).
The foods tested encompassed over 300 ingredients and were purchased from a variety of sources. While many of the foods were chosen for ingredient diversity, some were selected for their challenging chemical and physical properties to better assess the Amulet’s limitations and capabilities.
Our findings demonstrate that our sensors offer superior performance to commercially standard allergen detection methods like LFDs. As one example, LFD kits typically generated an inconclusive result for highly viscous foods. The Amulet, conversely, was able to correctly identify the presence of soy in these same foods.
An interesting edge case for the Amulet was a negative readout for vegetable oil, which is highly-refined soybean oil. While this might seem unexpected, research has shown that highly-refined soybean oil—including its derivative, soy lecithin—has little, if any, soy allergen present. This is because the refinement process reduces the amount of soy allergen to levels below that which would trigger an allergic reaction in the vast majority of soy-allergic individuals. For this reason, most allergists do not advise their soy-allergic patients to avoid soy lecithin. Our test result was also confirmed by a negative readout from the LFD kit.
We were pleased (but not entirely surprised) to find that for 100% of the foods tested, the Amulet correctly detected the presence or absence of soy. These results were consistent with those of the LFD, yet the Amulet was further able to detect soy allergen in cases where the LFD kit gave an inconclusive readout.
Of course, nothing is 100% accurate; but this data gives us confidence that we are outperforming leading commercial allergen detection technologies in both accuracy and speed.
The high accuracy and sensitivity of the Amulet further underscores its value as a preventative tool for avoiding allergenic foods.
The number of food combinations is endless, but our work establishes that in all conditions we flagged as potential sources of error, the Amulet performed with a high degree of accuracy. We look forward to building on our soy testing results, and publishing detection data on other allergenic ingredients and food contaminants our sensors are currently detecting!
For a deeper dive, you can read our latest peer-reviewed publication here.
— The Allergy Amulet Science Team
Allergy Amulet Science Team