Immunotherapy Update: Hope Ahead for Ragweed Allergy Sufferers

  • Several months ago, another HealthCentral expert, Dr. James Thompson, wrote an excellent comparison of subcutaneous immunotherapy, SCIT for short and commonly known as allergy shots, and sublingual/oral immunotherapy, often called allergy drops or SLIT and OIT for short.


    Allergy shots are widely used in the U.S. and are considered to be effective in treating allergies. SLIT, on the other hand, has not yet been approved for use in the U.S. by the FDA (although it IS available at some allergists' offices), but is considered a mainstream treatment in Europe.


    The holdup here in the U.S. is the fact that there are very few scientific studies that prove SLIT's effectiveness. There are other barriers too, as you can read in Dr. Thompson's article, but there are also some highly desirable factors, including the fact that no needles are involved, always a good thing, in my opinion. Wink

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    Things are changing, though, and just today I read about a study being conducted at 31 sites throughout the U.S. that is testing a spray form of SLIT for ragweed allergy. The study site profiled in the link above is at the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin, in their School of Medicine and Public Health.


    They're testing a new pump-spray treatment that patients can take at home that acts like a vaccine against allergies. So, if it works, it's better than our current allergy medicines. The pump-spray would treat the underlying problem, not just the symptoms.


    Other advantages include the fact that it doesn't require needles (or pain!), and it can be done by you at home; no need for an expensive, time-consuming doctor's office visit. All you have to do is spray some of the liquid under your tongue once a day.


    Unfortunately, there are no results being officially posted yet, but I believe they'll be positive, given the kinds of things we hear out of Europe. This year's study is almost over and no new participants are being accepted at this point. But if you live nearby Madison, Wisconsin and would like to be part of the study when it restarts next spring, you can call them at the Asthma, Allergy and Pulmonary Research Center at 608-263-6049.


    Meanwhile, I'll be watching for published results and will post them here when they're available. And if anyone has participated in any of these studies, please feel free to post your experiences here in the comments section.

Published On: September 18, 2008