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June 2002
Vol. 5, No. 6, p 9.
news in brief

Fewer shots for ragweed relief?

opening artHay fever sufferers know that allergy shots—a set of injections and boosters that lessen the body’s reaction to pollen—can be a real pain in the arm. Soon susceptible individuals, and especially those who react strongly to ragweed, a prominent source of hay fever allergens, will have the option of receiving only six shots over a six-week period to substantially control allergy symptoms. A Phase II clinical trial performed at Johns Hopkins University showed that the new course of treatment eradicated the need for over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines and decongestants. A six-week, six-shot regimen is a far cry from the current method of warding off hay fever, which is a rigorous six-month build up of shots, followed by required maintenance over three to five years.

Because the trial is an experimental study, it is not certain how long results last. But the researchers are determined to explore that in their upcoming study, scheduled for the subsequent ragweed season.

At least 35.9 million people in the United States suffer from hay fever, clinically referred to as allergic rhinitis, accounting for more than 8 million physician office visits each year, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

In the Phase II trial, researchers enlisted adults with seasonal ragweed hay fever to test a drug called AIC, which contains the major protein allergen in ragweed linked to a short oligonucleotide sequence to boost the immune system. Subjects attested not only to a dramatic decrease in the severity of symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and watery, itchy eyes, but also to an improved quality of life from eliminating the need for antihistamines and decongestants, in addition to the six-month phase shots. FDA approval is currently being sought to make AIC available for everyone who experiences hay fever during ragweed season.


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