Seasonal Sneezes Be Gone

New allergy shot method gets tested

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For many people, the changing of the seasons means an unavoidable nuisance: hay fever. Many try allergy shots to reduce their reactions. A new technique might expand their options.

A recent study found that new low dose allergy shots decreased skin reactions to grass pollen by 90 percent, suggesting it could be a new potential strategy to calm allergic reactions.

"Ask your doctor for help treating allergies."

Giuseppina Rotiroti, MD, of the Allergy and Clinical Immunology, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, and colleagues led a study to find out how well low-dose grass pollen injections reduced allergic skin reactions.

Unlike usual allergy shots, these injections used significantly lower doses of allergens - less than a 1,000th of the usual amount.

They were also applied at skin-level (intradermally), instead of between the skin and muscle (subcutaneously).

The researchers randomly assigned 30 adults with a minimum two-year history of seasonal tree and grass pollen allergies in the United Kingdom into three groups.

The first group received six intradermal injections at two-week intervals of grass pollen extract. The other two groups were given differently-timed or placebo injections for comparison to see if the treatment worked.

Clinicians and patients didn’t know which of these injections contained the allergens or the placebo.

After the study period, early and late skin-level allergic responses were measured after intradermal injections with grass and birch pollen.

The first injection caused a 10 cm diameter lump on the arm at the injection site that lasted 1-2 days, evidence of an allergic reaction.

The group that received repeat injections throughout the study period, experienced a 90 percent reduction in the size of the lump.

The different responses in the two groups suggested a significant reduction in allergic reactions due to the series of low dose allergy shots.

The results led to the launch of a vaccine trial using the same allergy shots used in the study.

“Crucially, if this approach proves to be effective, it would define a new scientific and clinical principle that could also be applied to other allergic diseases such as asthma and food allergies,” said co-author Stephen Till, MD, a senior lecturer at King's College London.

Low dose intradermal shots might be reasonable in the future for seasonal allergy sufferers, but more research is needed.

This study was published online September 11 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The research was funded by the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charitable Trust as well as a Clinician Scientist Fellowship from the Health Foundation and Academy of Medical Sciences.

Three of the authors have received financial or other support from one or more of various pharmaceutical companies, including but not limited to: ALK-Abell_o, Allergy Therapeutics, Boehringer Ingelheim, Circassia, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, and Weil.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 30, 2012
Last Updated:
November 2, 2012