The results of a clinical laboratory study using serum pools from individuals suffering from life-threatening Type I tropical latex allergy indicate no detectable allergic reaction to commercial grade natural rubber latex derived from Guayule. Immunologist Robert Hamilton, PhD, professor of medicine and pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore), presented the results during the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in San Antonio, Texas.

Guayule, a desert plant, is the only domestic source for natural rubber latex, and it now promises to be a safe alternative for the 8% to 12% of healthcare workers and their patients who suffer from tropical latex allergy, according to Yulex (Carlsbad, California), a materials science company producing a domestic source of natural rubber derived from Guayule.

"These results indicate that proteins present in production lots of Guayule latex are not cross-reactive with Hevea brasiliensis latex allergens. This suggests that devices manufactured with Guayule latex as an alternative rubber source should be safe for use by Hev-b latex allergic individuals," Hamilton reported at the conference.

The study determined the level of allergenic protein with the CAP inhibition assay. Researchers used serum containing IgE antibodies from two groups of individuals allergic to products made of tropical latex from the tropical rubber tree, also known as Hevea brasiliensis. The Guayule materials showed the same negative results as the neoprene synthetic latex material control group. However, the Hevea-based gloves showed significant levels of allergenic protein.

"This is the first detailed study of Guayule latex produced commercially and not in a lab," said Katrina Cornish, PhD, senior vice president of R&D at Yulex. Cornish, a former research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, developed the processing technology commercialized by Yulex, and the company contributed the Guayule latex materials to support Hamilton's work.