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Experimental ragweed therapy offers allergy sufferers longer relief with fewer shots

Americans accustomed to the seasonal misery of sneezing, runny noses and itchy, watery eyes caused by ragweed pollen might one day benefit from an experimental allergy treatment that not only requires fewer injections than standard immunotherapy, but leads to a marked reduction in symptoms that persists for at least a year after therapy has stopped, according to a new study in the October 5 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The research was sponsored by the Immune Tolerance Network, which is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), both components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

"As many as 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies caused by airborne pollens produced by grasses, trees and weeds," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "Finding new therapies for allergy sufferers is certainly an important research goal."

"This innovative research holds great promise for helping people with allergies," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "A short course of immunotherapy that reduces allergic symptoms over an extended period of time will significantly improve the quality of life for many people."

Ragweed is one of the most common pollens in the United States and is prevalent in the Northeast, Midwest and the South. In Baltimore, where the NEJM study was conducted, the ragweed pollen season lasts from mid-August to October.

Physicians treat people suffering from mild and moderate ragweed allergies with antihistamines or nasal corticosteroids. However, when people with allergies do not respond to these treatments or experience severe symptoms, the next therapeutic option is a course of subcutaneous injections of the allergen, which is called allergen immunotherapy. Although this standard immunotherapy is oft
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Contact: Kathy Stover
kstover@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
4-Oct-2006


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