Injections Reduce Ragweed Allergy for More Than One Season

Emma Hitt, PhD

March 12, 2003

March 12, 2003 (Denver) — A six-week series of shots with an immunostimulatory sequence (ISS) oligonucleotide linked to the Amb a 1 ragweed allergen appears to provide at least two years of relief to ragweed allergy sufferers, new findings suggest.

At the 60th annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) on Tuesday, Peter Creticos, MD, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, presented two-year data of 19 subjects who underwent one injection a week for six weeks before the 2001 ragweed season.

The patients received a total of 12 µg of the ISS-linked allergen called AIC over a six-week period. The safety, tolerability, and response to ragweed challenge before and after study injections were evaluated.

At last year's AAAAI meeting, Dr. Creticos and colleagues reported that AIC increased IgG anti-Amb a 1 from an average of 226 U/mL at baseline to 519 U/mL at the end of treatment.

A modest increase in IgE anti-Amb a 1 was observed in the AIC-treated group compared with the placebo group, but no rise in total IgE was observed in either the placebo or AIC group.

At this year's meeting, Dr. Creticos reported that the initial six-injection course of this treatment appears to be effective and safe for more than one allergy season.

The follow-up phase of the study showed that patients given the vaccine had improved hayfever symptoms, quality-of-life measurements, and less need for relief medications during the second ragweed season.

'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," Dr. Creticos said in a news release.

The findings represent a "major advance," especially when compared with conventional allergy treatments, which can take years to be effective, he said.

"My feeling is that this is a very, very promising approach for patients with inhalant allergies such as ragweed," Brian A. Smart, MD, an allergist with the Dupage Medical Group in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and a fellow of the AAAAI, told Medscape. "Looking at the trends, I think it is reasonable to hope that the therapy will last even longer than two years," he added.

Dr. Smart pointed out that much larger and long-term trials are needed. But he added that "in my practice I would love to be able to give modified allergy shots such as this — this would make patient's lives much easier."

The study was independently funded. Dr. Creticos is a paid consultant to Dynavax Technologies, the developers of AIC.

AAAAI 60th Annual Meeting. Presented March 12, 2003.

Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD


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