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6-Week Allergy Shots Give Lasting Relief

Reduce Hay Fever for More Than 1 Season
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WebMD Health News

March 12, 2003 (Denver) -- Last year, researchers showed that just six weeks of allergy shots significantly reduce allergy symptoms. Now one year later, these hay fever sufferers are still enjoying the lasting effects.

Significant relief from just six weeks of shots would be a dramatic difference from the months -- or even years -- of allergy shots normally experienced by allergy sufferers. But researchers were unsure if the effects would last -- until now.

At a meeting of allergy specialists, Peter Creticos, MD, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, presented two-year data of 19 people allergic to ragweed who underwent one allergy shot a week for six weeks before the 2001 ragweed season.

Creticos found that the six-week course of allergy shots was effective and safe for more than one hay fever season. Creticos is a paid consultant to Dynavax Technologies, the developers of the allergy shots.

The study participants had improved hay fever symptoms, better quality of life, and less need for relief medications -- such as antihistamines -- during the second ragweed season.

Current ragweed allergy shots typically require a tedious six-month build-up phase of shots, with subsequent maintenance injection therapy over three to five more years. "This study demonstrates that we can induce a clear clinical response in ragweed-allergic patients with a brief six-week, six-injection regimen," Creticos says in a news release.

There is also the risk of developing a serious allergic reaction to allergy shots, but the new drug was well tolerated by patients and caused no serious allergic reactions, according to Creticos.

"We are particularly pleased that this brief, six-week, six-injection regimen can have lasting positive effects for more than one season of ragweed exposure," Creticos says.

"My feeling is that this is very, very promising approach for patients with inhalant allergies such as ragweed," Brian A. Smart, MD, allergy specialist with the Dupage Medical Group in Glen Ellyn, Ill., tells WebMD. "Looking at the trends, I think it is reasonable to hope that the therapy will last even longer than two years."

Smart points out that much larger and long-term trials are needed. But he says, "In my practice I would love to be able to give modified allergy shots such as this -- this would make patients' lives much easier."

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