The MELISA® test, a modification of the LTT test, started to take shape when Dr Vera Stejskal, a toxicologist at Astra Pharmaceuticals in Södertälje, Sweden, was asked to develop a test for the diagnosis of drug allergy among workers in their pharmaceutical factories.

In 1990, a colleague of Dr Stejskal, dermatologist Dr Margit Forsbeck, expressed a wish to try the test on patients who claimed that their symptoms were caused by their amalgam fillings. At that time, many patients came to Dr Forsbeck with oral problems, burning, itching and lichenoid reactions and claimed that they suffered from "oral galvanism" or "amalgam poisoning".

The problem was that patch testing was not very reliable for testing of metals on the skin since metals are toxic substances. If a metal causes irritation on the skin, it is difficult to differentiate between a toxic and an allergic reaction. The dermatologist was concern if such a thing as mercury allergy really existed and would like prove or disprove this. Perhaps MELISA® could do the job?

As Astra is a pharmaceutical company and not a diagnostic company, they had no interest in claming MELISA® as their own, even though it had been developed under their roof. Dr Stejskal got a green light to go ahead and file a patent, which was granted in the beginning of the nineties.

Shortly after, MELISA Medica Foundation was founded to promote research on metal allergy and treatments that can lead to the improvement of many so-called incurable diseases such a multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue.

Now began the long process of validating the test for the diagnosis of metal allergy, which has lead to many scientific articles being published. Today, MELISA® is performed under license by certified laboratories worldwide and the test is reimbursed by public and private insurance in some countries. To this date, the MELISA® test has helped hundreds of patients to healthy life.

Chronic exposure to metals in jewelry, dental implants and restorations, cosmetics, joint prostheses or even coins can lead to health problems in sensitive individuals as they may be causing an allergic reaction. MELISA® is a simple blood test which can separate those individuals which may suffer side-effects from metal exposure and those that will not. The test will also tell the patient which metals the body tolerates and which it doesnít.

Typical symptoms of metal allergy are chronic fatigue and inflammation in various body parts. A sign of nickel allergy is when the skin gets red or itches upon contact with nickel-containing items such as watches, jeans buttons and cheap jewelry. Another sign is flu-like symptoms one or two days after a visit to the dentist whose done work with dental metal fillings.

It is important to differentiate between metal allergy and metal toxicity. MELISA® does not measure the levels of metals in the body; it measures whether the patient is allergic to metals. For example, hair samples may show levels of mercury or other substances which are below the official ìsafe limitî ñ but the patient can still be allergic. For allergic individuals, there is no such thing as a ìsafe limitî. Even trace amounts of a substance pose danger if the substance triggers an allergic reaction.

MELISA® test procedure:
White blood cells (lymphocytes) from whole blood are isolated and tested against allergens chosen accordingly to the patientís anamnesis, dental and occupational history. The blood is incubated for five days and the lymphocyte reaction is measured by two separate technologies: one based on the uptake of radioisotope by dividing lymphocytes; the other by evaluation by microscopy. The level of reactivity is measured as a Stimulation Index (SI). A value over 3 indicates a positive reaction to a given allergen. The results are presented with a graph.