Celiac.com 02/26/2018 - People with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivities react adversely to gluten proteins in wheat, barley and rye. The gold standard for assessing gluten levels in foods is a test called the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, aka ELISA. Now, ELISA is, by most measures, a good test. However, it does have some drawbacks.
ELISA tests do vary by manufacturer, and can provide inconsistent results, including false negatives, which can be harmful for people with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity.
Researchers Kevin D. Dorfman, Scott P. White and C. Daniel Frisbie claim they have developed a gluten detector that can rapidly detect and quantify different sources of gluten with a single test.
Their team says that their gluten assay device is based on floating gate transistor technology, and relies on tiny micro-channels for a sample to move through. Gluten in a sample will bind to one of three capture agents, which can be antibodies or a DNA-based aptamer, that specifically latch onto gluten proteins from certain sources. This binding causes a shift in the voltage read-out of the transistor which acts as a chemical fingerprint that identifies the gluten as being from barley, wheat, or rye.
As with ELISA, the device could detect gluten below 20 parts per million, which is the maximum threshold allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a "gluten-free" label. Because it has fewer processing steps, and uses automated sampling, the new sensor typically produces results 45 minutes faster due than ELISA tests.
The new test is still in development, and not set to replace ELISA anytime soon. But progress in the gluten-free world is rapid these days, so changes to commercial gluten detection systems are likely on the near future.