Vaccination with genetically engineered allergens prevents progression of allergic disease

V. Niederberger, F. Horak, S. Vrtala, S. Spitzauer, M.-T. Krauth, P. Valent, J. Reisinger, M. Pelzmann, B. Hayek, M. Kronqvist, G. Gafvelin, H. Gronlund, A. Purohit, R. Suck, H. Fiebig, O. Cromwell, G. Pauli, M. van Hage-Hamsten, and R. Valenta

PNAS | October 5, 2004 | vol. 101 | suppl. 2 | 14677–14682

IgE-mediated allergy affects >25% of the population in industrialized countries. Repeated contact with the disease-eliciting allergens induces rises of allergen-specific IgE Abs and progression of the disease to more severe manifestations. Our study uses a type of vaccine that is based on genetically modified allergen derivatives to treat allergic patients. We developed hypoallergenic derivatives of the major birch pollen allergen, Bet v 1, by genetic engineering and vaccinated birch pollen-allergic patients (n = 124) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Active treatment induced protective IgG Abs that inhibited allergen-induced release of inflammatory mediators. We also observed a reduction of cutaneous sensitivity as well as an improvement of symptoms in actively treated patients. Most important, rises of allergen-specific IgE induced by seasonal birch pollen exposure were significantly reduced in vaccinated patients. Vaccination with genetically engineered allergen derivatives is a therapy for allergy that not only ameliorates allergic reactions but also reduces the IgE production underlying the disease.

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