New Hope for Pollen, Milk Allergies
Shorter Course of Allergy Shots, Skin Patch for Milk Allergies Among New Approaches
March 18, 2009 (Washington, D.C.) -- Whether you’re allergic to pollen or
food, help is on the horizon.
Doctors report early success with a new approach that shortens the course of
allergy shots for people allergic to ragweed and grass. Other researchers found
that an experimental skin patch may help children who have milk allergies.
Other dairy-allergic children are benefiting from a counterintuitive therapy
in which patients swallow tiny amounts of the very food they are allergic to.
same approach that is being used successfully in children with peanut
Other researchers report that placing drops or tablets under the tongue may
someday end the need for pesky shots in some people allergic to pollen and dust
All the treatments are variations of what doctors call immunotherapy -- the
idea that giving small amounts of an allergen to people with pollen or food
allergies helps to build up the immune system so they can tolerate much higher
amounts before having an allergic reaction.
The new treatments were discussed at the annual meeting of the American
Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
A Shorter Course of Allergy Shots
Four preseasonal weekly allergy shots may reduce sneezing, wheezing, and
other symptoms in people who are allergic to ragweed, says Harold B. Kaiser,
MD, an allergist at the University of Minnesota.
“The idea is to build up the same immune protection you get from
conventional treatment, which consists of eight, 10, even 20 shots both before
and throughout allergy season,” he tells WebMD.
The new study involved 381 people with ragweed pollen allergies. About
two-thirds received four shots of Pollinex Quattro every week over a four-week
period leading up to ragweed season. The rest got placebo injections on the
Participants who took Pollinex Quattro reported significantly fewer symptoms
and taking significantly less allergy medication during the three peak weeks of
ragweed season than those given placebo, Kaiser says.
There were no serious side effects, but a few patients withdrew from the
study because of redness and swelling near the injection site.
More study is needed, but the hope is that fewer shots will work “as good or
better than conventional therapy, with fewer doctor visits and better
compliance,” Kaiser says.
In a separate study of nearly 900 people with seasonal grass pollen
allergies, those who received four preseasonal shots of Pollinex Quattro slept
more soundly, had less nasal congestion, and generally felt better, compared
with patients given placebo.
A spokesperson for Allergy Therapeutics, which makes Pollinex Quattro and
funded the studies, tells WebMD that the company hopes to apply for FDA
approval of the product in the next year. They have already applied for
approval in the European Union.