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Seasonal Allergy Vaccine on the Horizon

Pollinex Quattro Vaccine Works After 4 Treatments
By Patricia Kirk
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 14, 2007 -- A new allergy treatment could lead to a once-a-year vaccination for seasonal allergies, rather than weekly allergy shots year round.

The new vaccine, called Pollinex Quattro, gave patients a level of relief after four treatments given over three to four weeks that ordinarily take up to a year to achieve with conventional allergy shots.

Pollinex Quattro is derived from salmonella bacteria, which intensifies a person’s immune response to substances they are allergic to.

William Howland III, MD, an investigator at Lovelace Scientific Resources in Austin, Texas, says the vaccine created a faster immune response in 68 patients with allergic rhinitis due to ragweed.

Participants in this study were divided into four groups, which received one of three increasingly concentrated doses of the vaccine or placebo. All groups receiving the vaccine experienced an immune response. The best response occurred in the group receiving vaccine with the highest concentration.

Allergy Vaccine 'Safe and Effective'

Howland says this seasonal allergy vaccine requires fewer injections and involves less risk for severe adverse reactions than rapid desensitization, an aggressive approach to treating allergies that involves 10 to 15 injections given at 15- to 20-minute intervals.

Rapid desensitization usually takes all day because patients must be monitored for severe reactions. With Pollinex Quattro, patients were out the door in 30 minutes, and less than half of them experienced mild to moderate allergic reactions, primarily at the site of injection. 

"What’s really cool is we were able to get changes in immune response so quickly with this treatment compared to traditional immunotherapy," Howland says.

Howland’s study evaluated the treatment’s ability to quickly trigger an immune response to ragweed allergens but stopped short of follow-up of patient symptom relief.

In another Pollinex Quattro study, 70% of patients injected with Pollinex Quattro vaccine were desensitized to allergens, and 87.8% showed symptom improvement.

Allergy Vaccine: What's Next?

Although Pollinex Quattro is available in Europe, it must still undergo U.S. clinical trials for FDA approval, which will take about five years, Howland says. 

Rebecca Gruchalla, MD, chief of allergy at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says there is still not enough data to determine its potential as an alternative to conventional immune therapy or rapid desensitization, which is available now.

"Most of my patients are allergic to multiple substances, and so far most of the (PQ) studies have focused on a single allergy source like grass," she notes.

The study was presented Nov. 12 at The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting in Dallas.

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