tampabay.com

Hay fever vaccine shows promise

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published October 5, 2006


BALTIMORE - Could the sneezy, runny-eyed misery of hay fever one day be a thing of the past? Scientists are reporting encouraging results from early tests of a vaccine they hope will give relief from this seasonal scourge.

The experimental vaccine has been tested on only a couple of dozen people so far, but it substantially relieved symptoms for those who received it in six weekly shots, and the benefit lasted for at least two years, doctors report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The vaccine "holds great promise," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which helped fund the study. "A short course of immunotherapy that reduces allergic symptoms over an extended period of time will significantly improve the quality of life for many people."

As many as 40-million Americans suffer from hay fever, caused by an allergy to ragweed pollen. To relieve symptoms, many take antihistamines and other medications. But the only option for longer-lasting relief has been dozens of shots over three to five years to desensitize the immune system.

The study tested a vaccine made by Dynavax Technologies.

Hay fever sufferers were given either six shots of the vaccine or dummy shots. The vaccine reduced symptoms of sneezing, runny nose and eyes, and itchy ears and throats by 60 percent on average in the 14 who received it compared with the 11 who did not.

The company plans a larger study of the vaccine.