AllerHunter is a cross-reactive allergen prediction program built on a combination of Support Vector Machine (SVM) and pairwise sequence similarity. Cross-reactivity is based on similarity of proteins to allergens. However, not all proteins with similar sequence or structure to known allergens are cross-reactive allergens. AllerHunter aims to predict allergens and non-allergens with high sensitivity and specificity, without compromising efficiency at classification of proteins with similar sequence to known allergens.
Type I Hypersensitivity is an immunoglobuline E (IgE)-mediated allergic reaction caused by allergens. Allergy affects more than 20 percent of the population in industrialized countries. It is a subject of increasing relevance as we are exposed to various foreign entities alien to our immune system.
There are distinct differences between prediction of allergenicity and cross-reactivity of allergens. Allergenicity is the immunogenic potential of an allergen to induce IgE antibody production, whereas cross-reactivity is the potential of a substance to bind to IgE previously induced by a known allergen. It is difficult to predict allergenicity because causes of immunogenicity of allergens are still not completely clear. However it is possible to predict cross-reactivity since it implies similarity in IgE binding sites.
Data sets used in AllerHunter can be downloaded here: