New vaccine could revolutionize hay fever therapy
Millions of people suffer from hay fever and so far there are only a few approaches that actually enable the symptoms to be cured or long-term alleviated. So-called hyposensitization is a well-known method here, but it is relatively time-consuming. Now scientists have successfully tested a hay fever vaccine for the first time, which is intended to provide long-term relief from the symptoms.
In a phase II-b study with 180 patients, the team of researchers at MedUni Vienna at the Institute for Pathophysiology and Allergy Research in cooperation with the Viennese company Biomay AG demonstrated “that the synthetically produced vaccine BM32 with four injections in the first year and a refresher in relieves the symptoms of those affected by at least 25 percent in the second year of treatment, ”according to the latest report from MedUni Vienna. This is an important step towards the development of an effective hay fever therapy. The study results were published in the journal "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology".
400 million people with pollen allergy
According to the researchers, around 400 million people worldwide suffer from some form of pollen allergy. The typical complaints include itchy eyes, runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. Those affected are significantly restricted in their daily lives during the pollen season and many are dependent on regular medication to alleviate symptoms.
Newly developed vaccine
The now tested immunotherapy with BM32 represents a new approach to hay fever treatment. According to MedUni Vienna, it is based on “an innovative, recombinant peptide carrier technology.” Compared to other immunotherapies, significantly fewer injections are necessary and fewer side effects can be identified . The underlying technology was developed at the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Allergy Research under the direction of Rudolf Valenta from MedUni Vienna in cooperation with the Viennese company Biomay AG, which specializes in the discovery and development of novel allergy therapeutics.
Synthetic production of the vaccine
According to the scientists, the vaccine and the necessary antibodies can be produced synthetically by using a new technology to remove B cell-reactive peptides from the allergen and then change them. The peptides are adapted so that "they lose their binding properties for allergen-specific IgE and serve as carrier proteins for the necessary support from the T cells," reports the MedUni Vienna. This process can be repeated an infinite number of times and the vaccine always remains equally effective, always of the same quality and safely, the researchers emphasize.
Preventive use also possible?
In the two-year study period, the vaccine improved symptoms by around 25 percent on average, the scientists report. "The more the allergy sufferer was affected by the grass pollen, the stronger the positive effect after the vaccination," said the first author of the study Verena Niederberger-Leppin from the University Clinic for Neck, Nose and Ear Diseases at MedUni Vienna. The researchers also assume that symptoms will decrease even further if the vaccination is refreshed over the years. The vaccine may also be used preventively.
Vaccine approval planned for 2021
The scientists are already planning a subsequent Phase III study and a simultaneous vaccination study in children, taking into account all of the guidelines provided for this, from 2019 in order to create the conditions for general approval of vaccination from 2021. "This is a Viennese product that will revolutionize the treatment of grass pollen allergies"; according to the study director Valenta. As part of their research into the effectiveness of BM32, the researchers also found that the hepatitis B vaccine could also be an effective treatment option and could also be used to relieve asthma. Other possible areas of application for BM32 include the treatment of allergies to dust mites, cats and ragweed pollen, the scientists report. (fp)