The basophil activation test (BAT) is a functional assay that measures the degree of degranulation following stimulation with allergen or controls by flow cytometry and is directly correlated with histamine release. From the bell-shaped curve resulting from BAT in allergic patients, basophil reactivity (given by %CD63+ basophils) and basophil sensitivity (given by EC50 or similar) are the main outcomes of the test. BAT takes into account all characteristics of IgE and allergen and thus can be more specific than sensitization tests in the diagnosis of allergic disease. BAT reduces the need for in vivo procedures, such as intradermal tests and allergen challenges, which can cause allergic reactions of unpredictable severity. As it closely reflects the patients’ phenotype, it can potentially be used to monitor the natural resolution of food allergies and to predict and monitor clinical response to immunomodulatory treatments, such as allergen-specific immunotherapy and biologicals. Clinical application of BAT requires analytical validation, clinical validation, standardization of procedures and quality assurance to ensure reproducibility and reliability of results. Currently, efforts are ongoing to establish a platform that could be used by laboratories in Europe and in the USA for certification.
Adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients need additional support while they experience the challenges associated with their age. They need specific training to learn the knowledge and skills required to confidently self-manage their allergies and/or asthma. Transitional care is a complex process which should address the psychological, medical, educational and vocational needs of AYA in the developmentally appropriate way. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has developed a clinical practice guideline to provide evidence-based recommendations for healthcare professionals to support the transitional care of AYA with allergy and/or asthma. This guideline was developed by a multi-disciplinary working panel of experts and patient representatives based on two recent systematic reviews. It sets out a series of general recommendations on operating a clinical service for AYA, which include: (i) starting transition early (11-13 years), (ii) using a structured, multidisciplinary approach, (iii) ensuring AYA fully understand their condition and have resources they can access, (iv) active monitoring of adherence and (v) discussing any implications for further education and work. Specific allergy and asthma transition recommendations include (i) simplifying medication regimes and using reminders; (ii) focusing on areas where AYA are not confident and involving peers in training AYA patients; (iii) identifying and managing psychological and socioeconomic issues impacting disease control and quality of life; (iv) enrolling the family in assisting AYA to undertake self-management and (v) encouraging AYA to let their friends know about their allergies and asthma. These recommendations may need to be adapted to fit into national healthcare systems.