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Allergen Immunotherapy

Allergen Immunotherapy

06 Nov 10:00 by Adrienn Prezenszki

New treatments for allergies using Immunotherapy

Fortunately, I am one of the lucky ones who doesn’t suffer from allergies, but I do have family members who do, and I really feel for them. Throughout my work I happen to work with companies which use the latest research and development methods to produce vaccines for people who suffer from allergies. Below I have just covered a tiny part of a big topic. Enjoy!

Allergies

Allergies, also known as allergic diseases, are a number of conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to something in the environment that usually causes little or no problem in most people.  These diseases include hayfever, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis.  Symptoms may include red eyes, an itchy rash, runny nose, shortness of breath, or swelling.

Common allergens include pollen and certain food. Metals and other substances may also cause problems. Food, insect stings, and medications are common causes of severe reactions. Their development is due to both genetic and environmental factors. The underlying mechanism involves immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE), part of the body's immune system, binding to an allergen and then to a receptor on mast cells or basophils where it triggers the release of inflammatory chemicals such as histamine. Diagnosis is typically based on a person's medical history.

Allergen Immunotherapy

A preventative treatment for allergic reactions to substances such as grass pollens, house dust mites and bee venom. It can also be called desensitisation, specific immunotherapy, hypo-sensitisation, sublingual immunotherapy, allergy “shots” or allergy vaccination. This treatment involves giving gradually increasing doses of an allergen such as grass pollen or dust mite. The treatment works by re-programming the immune system to prevent allergy symptoms from developing in the first place.  It can treat allergic rhinitis, some stinging insects (such as wasps, bees), severe hay fever and animal allergies. Food allergies and skin rashes cannot be treated with this method. Allergy “shots” are the most commonly used and most effective form of allergy immunotherapy. This is the only treatment that actually changes the immune system, making it possible to prevent the development of new allergies and asthma. Oral (under the tongue) immunotherapy has recently become the most widely practised form of desensitisation treatment in Europe although it has yet to become popular in the UK. Like shots, tablets reduce symptoms by helping the body build resistance to the effects of an allergen. Unlike shots, tablets only treat one type of allergen and do not prevent the development of new allergies and asthma.

Statistics

“Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe. Up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction.” (EAACI,2016)

“More than 150 million Europeans suffer from chronic allergic diseases and the current prediction is that by 2025 half of the entire EU population will be affected “ (EAACI, 2016)

The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorder. (M. L. Levy, 2004)

A staggering 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy and the number of sufferers is on the rise, growing by around 2 million between 2008 and 2009 alone. Almost half (48%) of sufferers have more than one allergy (Mintel, 2010)

In the 20 years to 2012 there was a 615% increase in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK (Turner, Paul J., et al, 2015)

Do you suffer from allergies? I am interested to hear if you do and how it affects your daily life, so feel free to comment.

References

https://www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/treatments/allergy-and-immunology/allergen-immunotherapy

http://acaai.org/allergies/allergy-treatment/allergy-immunotherapy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allergy

https://www.allergyuk.org/information-and-advice/statistics