San Francisco, CA, October 4, 2006 -- The results of an Immune Tolerance Network (ITN) study, published in the October 5, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that a six-week experimental allergy treatment can relieve hay fever symptoms for at least two years. The researchers believe that the six-injection immunotherapy regimen with a novel DNA-based drug known as 'AIC' could offer a significant improvement over traditional allergen immunotherapy, which can require several years of weekly or bi-weekly injections.
The placebo-controlled, double blinded study, begun in 2001, examined 25 ragweed allergic (hay fever) volunteers at Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center in Baltimore, MD. Participants receiving a short, six week regimen with AIC prior to the initial allergy season showed substantially lower nasal hay fever symptoms, used less allergy medication and had higher quality of life scores than those receiving a placebo. Symptomatic improvements in AIC-treated patients were found to be maintained during the next subsequent ragweed season, despite no further treatment of these individuals.
Standard immunotherapy is a long-established treatment with proven clinical benefits for a number of allergic conditions, including hay fever. Patients receive regular injections containing small amounts of the offending allergen ragweed pollen, in the case of hay fever - eventually making them less sensitive to inhalation of the allergen. While proven effective and long-lasting, patients require several years of weekly or monthly injections and are often unable to complete the treatments. Standard immunotherapy also carries the risk of a serious allergic reaction to the injected allergen.
In the current study, no serious adverse reactions due to AIC were observed. Side effects of the treatment were generally mild and limited to temporary redness around the injection site.