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Could a new hay fever vaccine be the end of seasonal suffering?

Published : Wednesday September 12, 2012 | Posted in : General Health
pollen allergy

The number of people with allergies such as hay fever and other allergies are at an all time high in most parts of the world, meaning that the need for a potential cure of vaccine is becoming a pressing one. If you’ve ever suffered from hay fever, you’d know how debilitating it can be, something which costs the government more than £300 million in sick days during the summer.

So the thought of a potential hay fever vaccine could potentially save the economy millions on sick days and may mean that it’ll be safe to go outside without being completely under the influence of antihistamines and other prophylactic substances. Although this new vaccine is not available yet, it’s believed that it’ll be a more cost effective way for people to deal with their hay fever in the long run. The treatment basically ‘teaches’ the immune system that an allergen needn’t be attacked, meaning that immune sells become less sensitive to this particular allergen.

The only way that hay fever is currently treated is with the help of antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, inhalers and pollen injections, although the latter option is often very expensive and not an option for every one. In addition to this, effective immunotherapy, as it’s known, can take up to three years in total and can often be risky.

The vaccine works in a similar principle to the above-mentioned treatment, although the dose of pollen used is significantly smaller and is also only injected into the top layer of skin. This is said to be a more direct route to the immune system, meaning that treatment doesn’t have to take place over as long a period of time.

Initial trails have only included the body’s immune reaction against grass pollen, but soon trials will be started to look at the effects of this treatment on sneezing allergies. The researchers are also hoping to eventually look into the treatment of more risky allergies such as those to food and asthma.

Researchers are also of the opinion that this type of allergy vaccine will be able to benefit more people than traditional immunotherapy does. However, should we not be doing more to help people with allergies especially in the light of increasing number of people with allergic diseases in the world? Trials on 90 patients are only due to start next year, in the meanwhile those who require immunotherapy as a last resort need to fork out between £500 to £1000 a year for treatment. To learn more about these trails click here.

EpiPen sales are soaring because of an increase in dangerous food allergies in the US and more and more children are currently being diagnosed with asthma in the UK as well. This is an example of how allergic conditions has become a very real part of modern society and can influence the quality of life for many people and therefore more should be done towards effective management of these conditions, to not only ensure that people are able to lead more comfortable lives but also lives that are less at risk.

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