From the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
New England Journal of Medicine
PHILADELPHIA—An investigational allergy vaccine provides long-lasting hay fever relief, data presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting show. After just 6 injections, vaccinated patients had a 60% reduction in their allergy symptoms compared with those receiving placebo. These results were also published in the (2006; 355:1445-1455).
Called AIC (Dynavax Technologies), this novel immunostimulatory DNA vaccine has already undergone preliminary testing in France, Canada, and the United States. Data from studies like these have confirmed the safety of AIC, and a recent clinical trial conducted through the Immune Tolerance Network of the National Institutes of Health has demonstrated promising results for efficacy.
Patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis showed improvements in a number of measures, including seasonal symptom diary scores, quality-of-life scores, and medication usage.
Lead investigator Peter S. Creticos, MD, director, Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center, Baltimore, Md, said that clinical trials to date have shown that, in patients with ragweed-induced allergic rhinitis, AIC is less allergenic than conventional immunotherapeutic products (allergy injections) and may offer an improved safety profile for immunotherapy.
The message is that the vaccine is “very promising in that this is truly a major advancement. What we have found is that you don’t have to take years and years of shots. We can give you several injections and shut off your disease for years,” Dr Creticos told .
Several hundred patients have already been treated with this vaccine in clinical trials, and further trials are under way to confirm the optimal dosing, long-term safety, and immunologic effects in patients with ragweed-induced allergic rhinitis and asthma.
Dr Creticos said the vaccine holds the promise of eliminating the need for traditional allergy medicines that target allergy symptoms, such as nasal steroids and antihistamines. It may also provide a safer, faster replacement for the costly immunotherapy regimens, which can take years to work. “The point to all this is that upfront standard immunotherapy requires injections 1 to 2 times a week for 4 months, followed by 1 to 2 injections a month for 3 to 5 years. This approach would be much simpler and easier,” he explained.
Conducted during 2 fall ragweed seasons, this trial included 25 volunteers (aged 23-60 years) with a demonstrated history of ragweed allergy; 14 patients received the AIC vaccine, administered as 6 weekly shots, and the 11 others received placebo injections.
Dr Creticos said relief from allergic symptoms was as pronounced in the second year as it was in the first, even though no additional vaccine was administered. He said the vaccine works by suppressing acute allergic reactions and by helping the body better regulate chronic inflammation.