A genetically engineered allergy vaccine has provided promising results in a trial which took place in Austria, Sweden and France. This vaccine, say scientists, provided hay fever sufferers with significant benefits, inform Medical News Today.
Experts say that at least 25% of us have some kind of allergy (worldwide). An allergy is an overreaction by the person’s immune system to a foreign body (this foreign body is harmless). Most vaccines are aimed at increasing the body’s immune system. An allergy vaccine has the opposite aim – it has to reduce the person’s immune system.
The team produced genetically engineered birch tree pollen so that the body can produce antibodies which greatly reduce the immune response (to pollen). The vaccine did not only reduce response to birch wood pollen, but to many other pollens as well.
According to News.Independent, scientists led by Rudolf Valenta of the Medical University of Vienna produced a vaccine made by genetically altering the allergy-causing protein found in birch-tree pollen - one of the major causes of hay fever. People who are allergic to birch pollen overproduce IgE antibodies, which results in the hyperstimulation of the immune system leading to the typical symptoms of hay fever, such as running eyes and nose.
In a clinical trial involving 124 people who are allergic to birch-tree pollen a significant improvement was found in those who were given the vaccine, the scientists say in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"These results could lead to the development of more effective vaccines for the treatment of the most common forms of allergy and even for prophylactic vaccination," they say.
Professor Valenta said the study was the first to show that it is possible to vaccinate against an allergy using a genetically modified version of the substance that caused the allergy. "This is the first demonstration that is it possible to vaccinate against an allergy with allergens - disease causing anti- gens - produced by gene technology," he said. "In the next five years you can expect to have vaccines against most common allergies using gene technology.
Ultimately we hope to have prophylactic vaccines that would eliminate most allergies."
In accord with Reuters, Van Cauwenberge is the coordinator of the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network (GA2LEN), of which the Medical University of Vienna is a partner. "The vaccinated patients reacted like healthy people. If they (the researchers) can confirm this on a larger scale there is a good chance that we, within a few years, would not only obtain a safe but also 'healing' vaccine," Van Cauwenberge added. He said the vaccine could hit the market relatively soon. "They are using a technique which allows mass production. If these results are confirmed on a larger scale ... a vaccine could hit the market relatively soon, within about two years," Van Cauwenberghe said.