Presently, allergy diagnosis and therapy procedures are undergoing a transition phase in which allergen extracts are being step-by-step replaced by molecule-based products. The new developments will allow clinicians to obtain detailed information on sensitization patterns, more accurate interpretation of allergic symptoms, and thus improved patients' management. In this respect, recombinant technology has been applied to develop this new generation of molecule-based allergy products. The use of recombinant allergens allows full validation of identity, quantity, homogeneity, structure, aggregation, solubility, stability, IgE-binding and the biologic potency of the products. In contrast, such parameters are extremely difficult to assay and standardize for extract-based products. In addition to the possibility of bulk production of wild type molecules for diagnostic purposes, recombinant technology opened the possibility of developing safer and more efficacious products for allergy therapy. A number of molecule-based hypoallergenic preparations have already been successfully evaluated in clinical trials, bringing forward the next generation of allergy vaccines. In this contribution, we review the latest developments in allergen characterization, molecule-based allergy diagnosis, and the application of recombinant allergens in therapeutic setups. A comprehensive overview of clinical trials using recombinant allergens as well as synthetic peptides is presented.
Keywords: Recombinant allergens; allergen characterization; allergen-specific immunotherapy; molecule-based allergy diagnosis.