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Research Findings in Allergen Immunotherapy Unveiled

Allergies • • ImmunologyNov 11, 08

Researchers are presenting more than 450 abstracts on investigational findings in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases at the ACAAI Annual Meeting in Seattle, Nov. 6-11. Following are highlights of some key studies on allergen immunotherapy.

“Subcutaneous Immunotherapy Reduces Future Sensitization in Allergic Children under Six Years of Age.” (Abstract #18: Nov. 9 at 1:15 p.m.) – Zachary D. Jacobs, M.D., Columbia, Mo., et al – Although controversy exists over the use of allergen-specific subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) among children under six, studies show it is safe and effective in this group and may prevent the development of asthma in sensitized patients. In this retrospective chart review of one Midwest allergy clinic from 1992-1997, investigators identified 59 patients on SCIT aged 18 months to 5 years for analysis. In patients receiving SCIT, sensitivities decreased 10 percent. In contrast, the control group had a highly significant increase of 62 percent in sensitivities. Authors recommend SCIT should be considered in pediatric patients with allergic rhinitis as young as 18 months to reduce future sensitizations.

“CYT003-QbG10, A Novel Allergen-independent Immunotherapy, Shown to be Safe and Efficacious in Placebo-controlled Phase II Study.” (Abstract #19: Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m.) – Audra Blaziene, M.D., Ph.D., Vilnius, Lithuania, et al – New disease-modifying drug candidate QbG10 significantly reduces allergy symptoms in Phase II clinical trial. Current immunotherapy is based on the repeated application of allergen components, and, with up to 80 injections, it is inconvenient and may cause frequent adverse events due to allergen exposure. Here, the investigators present a completely novel allergen-independent immunotherapy that does not contain any allergen components. QbG10 consists of short stretches of synthetic DNA that are packaged into virus-like particles. In a placebo-controlled phase II study with 80 patients, six weekly injections of QbG10 have been shown to be safe, very well tolerated and efficacious in lowering allergy symptoms in daily life compared to placebo (reduction of total symptom score by -61% for QbG10 versus -32% for placebo, p=0.008). The authors conclude that this new drug candidate has potential as a convenient, well tolerated and disease-modifying therapy able to address a broad range of allergies.

“Persistent Efficacy of Long-term Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis with a Grass Allergy Immunotherapy Tablet: Findings from a 3-year Clinical Trial.” (Abstract #22: Nov. 9 at 2:15 p.m.) – Moises Calderon, M.D., Ph.D., London, United Kingdom, et al – Although sublingual allergen immunotherapy has been shown to improve symptoms and reduce the need for rescue medication in patients with allergic rhinitis, the efficacy of grass allergy immunotherapy tablets (AIT) following several years of use has not been established according to authors. Their findings from a 3-year trial demonstrate that long-term treatment for allergic rhinitis with a grass allergy immunotherapy tablet was well tolerated and was associated with a sustained reduction of symptoms and rescue medications use, as well as improvements in health-related quality of life.

“Does Allergy Immunotherapy Confer Healthcare Cost Benefits for Children with Allergic Rhinitis? A Large-Scale, Retrospective, Claims-Based Study.” (Abstract #34: Nov. 10 at 1:15 p.m.) – Cheryl Hankin, Ph.D., Moss Beach, Calif., et al – Although the disease modifying effects of allergy immunotherapy (IT) on childhood allergic rhinitis are well documentd, potential cost benefits remain largely unknown state the authors. During an 18-month follow up in this retrospective study of Medicaid-enrolled children over nine years (1997-2006), the IT group had significantly fewer inpatient stays and outpatient visits exclusive of IT than the No-IT group, and there was a trend toward lower 18-month mean costs for inpatient services among those who received IT. Mean outpatient costs excluding IT ($3,628 vs. $6,504) or including IT ($4,502 vs. $6,450), pharmacy costs ($2,737 vs. $3,261) and total healthcare costs ($8,344 vs. $11,934) were significantly lower among the IT versus the No-IT Group. Investigators conclude that among children with allergic rhinitis, IT may confer a significant healthcare cost-offset benefit that is realized within 18 months of IT initiation.

“Profile of Allergy Patients in the U.S. Who Receive Immunotherapy: Results from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.” (Abstract #P289: Nov. 9 at Noon) – Gregory Reardon, Ph.D., Worthington, Ohio, et al – Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) for years 2001-2005, investigators studied characteristics of patients in the U.S. with allergic rhinitis (AR) who also received immunotherapy (ARIM). Compared to patients who have AR but do not use immunotherapy, ARIM patients were significantly more likely to be asthmatic, have chronic sinusitis, be 5 years of age and older, have a high school education level, have the highest income level, be a non-smoker, and have private health insurance.

About the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research.

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)

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