News Release

Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Media Contact:

Sofia Dorsano,

Note to media: See abstract 4196

Measuring the effectiveness of immunotherapy treatment for hay fever allergy

CANCÚN - Correctly prescribed immunotherapy, where the specific allergen responsible for a patient’s symptoms has been identified, is the only treatment that has the potential to modify the course of allergic disease. Immunotherapy is administered by a series of injections or sublingual drops but has the potential for adverse side effects and requires patient compliance over a lengthy period of time. Identification of patients who will benefit from immunotherapy and a way to monitor the efficacy of therapy at an early stage of treatment is an important goal for allergists.

A study presented today by Mohamed Shamji and colleagues from the Imperial College, London, UK in collaboration with the Immune Tolerance Network, USA, analyzed blood samples from patients allergic to grass pollen which were incubated with an extract of Timothy Grass (P. Pratense). Grass pollen immunotherapy is associated with reduction in symptoms, the need for rescue medication and improvement of quality of life in patients with severe seasonal pollinosis. Although the suppression of the early allergic response following in vivo cutaneous allergen challenge is associated with inhibition of basophil histamine release, the effects of immunotherapy on basophil reactivity is yet to be fully determined. The investigators hypothesized that basophil reactivity as measured by increased expression of surface activation markers CD203c, CD63 and CD107a on CRTH2+ basophils is increased in grass pollen allergic individuals following in vitro allergen stimulation, and that this hyperreactivity is reduced in immunotherapy-treated patients.

A dose-dependent increase in the proportion of CD203c+, CD63+ and CD107a+ CRTH2+ basophils was observed following in vitro grass pollen stimulation in allergics but not in non-atopic controls. The study concluded that basophil reactivity and histamine release is significantly reduced following grass pollen immunotherapy, but further investigation is required on the use of surface activation markers CD203c, CD63 and CD107a on basophils for clinical monitoring.

Professor Giovanni Passalacqua of the University of Genoa, Italy, added to these findings: “The search for a reliable biological marker of the effect of Specific Immunotherapy (SIT) has always been a priority in research. In this work the authors have identified a functional characteristic of effector cells that seems able to distinguish allergic and non allergic patients and is clearly influenced by SIT. Possible implications of this approach would be the proper identification of patients eligible to SIT and the early detection of its effect.”

About the XXII World Allergy Congress
The World Allergy Congress is the biennial scientific meeting of the World Allergy Organization. Meeting attendees gather to learn about the most recent discoveries in allergy, asthma and immunology research and advances in treatment. More than 3,500 physicians and medical professionals from 85 countries will be able to view over 716 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About the World Allergy Organization
The World Allergy Organization (WAO) is an international alliance of 89 regional and national allergy, asthma and immunology societies. Through collaboration with its Member Societies WAO provides a wide range of educational and outreach programs, symposia and lectureships to allergists/immunologists around the world and conducts initiatives related to clinical practice, service provision, and physical training in order to better understand and address the challenges facing allergists/immunologists worldwide. For more information, visit