Is there a vaccine for dog allergies

Vaccination against hay fever - hope for patients

Status: 05/03/2018 5:51 p.m. | archive
by Thomas Samboll, NDR Info
Pollen can cause sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and breathing problems in allergy sufferers.

Doctors estimate that around 12 million people get hay fever every year in Germany, including more than a million children and adolescents. They rely on drugs called anti-histamines to relieve symptoms. Or they hope for relief from a specific immunotherapy, the so-called desensitization. However, it is tedious and exhausting because the patients have to take drops or tablets regularly for several years.

Vaccination serum developed against hay fever

Vaccination with one or a few injections could speed up treatment significantly. The allergist Rudolf Valenta from the Medical University of Vienna and his colleagues have used genetic engineering to produce artificial allergens that the researchers want to use as a vaccine against grass pollen. "Our vaccine is constructed on the drawing board, so to speak. Since it is manufactured artificially, we can change it and thus its composition. We have identified the four most important allergens from grass pollen and designed four vaccine candidates based on the structure of these molecules. We constructed antigens in such a way that they almost no longer have an allergic effect. "

Certain substances can also be added to the allergen in the vaccine serum to quasi calm the immune system. Scientists call such substances adjuvants. There is also the possibility of paralyzing certain building blocks of the allergen, namely those that are responsible for the false immune response of the allergy sufferer, says Professor Karl Christian Bergmann from the Berlin Charité. "You could say that the allergen has been changed in such a way that it is no longer a natural whole allergen and thus no longer triggers allergic reactions, but is still suitable for developing tolerance in the body."

A development that could be a great relief for many allergy sufferers. "The patient has, so to speak, the 'bad' antibodies, the allergen-specific ones that make him sick. When the allergen enters the body and encounters these antibodies, they cause the allergic inflammatory reaction. But if we succeed in applying the protective antibodies to the patient multiply, then they catch the allergen before it can combine with the damaging antibodies. And then there is little triggering of allergic complaints, "explains Research Director Rudolf Valenta.

Market launch in 2020 at the earliest

The scientists rule out that the new vaccination could lead to a life-threatening allergic shock to the patient, as is possible with immunotherapy. The vaccine can therefore give hope to pollen allergy sufferers - even if it has only been used to alleviate hay fever, but not eliminate it. It will come onto the market in 2020 at the earliest.

Aim of the researchers: preventive vaccination for children

However, it is quite possible that in the future you will be able to get vaccinated against hay fever as a preventive measure in childhood. The Viennese researchers want to tackle this topic next - with a vaccination study in children. "We vaccinate children who do not yet have symptoms, but already have disease-causing antibodies, which can be measured in the blood. And you can also predict which children will develop an allergy in a few years' time. We then vaccinate these children preventively and prevent that they become allergic, "explains allergy researcher Rudolf Valenta. "And then comes the primary prevention - that would be the vaccination, so to speak, which prevents children from becoming allergic in the first place and sensitization."

Multiple treatments necessary

A vaccination against grass pollen would have fewer possible side effects than immunotherapy.

The one vaccination syringe against hay fever will probably not be available in the near future. The researchers from Vienna also need five injections in the first year for the grass pollen vaccination, followed by an annual booster. But regardless of whether one, three or five syringes - it is not only because of the lower risk of side effects that vaccinations with specially modified allergens could be a big step forward for the affected patients, because they would be spared the usual syringe marathon with classic immunotherapy.

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NDR Info | 05/04/2018 | 9:05 pm