Largest Roach Allergen Identified By
December 31, 1996
A key German cockroach allergen has been identified by scientists
with the Agricultural Research Service and cooperating institutions. The
discovery came as part of a long-term project among researchers at ARS, the
Arkansas Childrens Hospital Research Institute and the U.S. Food and Drug
Administrations Laboratory of Standards and Testing.
The newly discovered allergen is the largest of several other
cockroach allergens that researchers have identified over the past two decades.
ARS scientists provided cockroach biological materials to ACHRI
and FDA researchers, who isolated the genetic code of the protein and then
copied it in a process called cloning.
ACHRI scientists then tested the allergen in 22 people known to be
sensitive to cockroach allergens. Of the 22, 17 (77 percent) were sensitive to
the allergen, made of proteins that are shed in cockroach shells and other body
In asthmatics, allergies to cockroaches are second only to
household dust mites.
Scientists say the discovery of this high molecular weight
allergen could help medical researchers devise improved diagnostic test kits
for people with cockroach allergies.
ARS scientists are developing an allergen environmental detection
kit that can be used to determine distribution of cockroach allergens inside
homes and other structures.
The cooperating scientists are working with private-sector
cooperators to find ways to denature or eliminate the allergens from houses and
Scientific contact: Richard J. Brenner, ARS Center for
Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology Research, Gainesville, Fla.,
phone (352) 374-5903, firstname.lastname@example.org.