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Studies Ignite Hope for Long-Acting Allergy Vaccines
Date:9/28/2008

New ragweed regimens would be more convenient and effective, researchers say

SUNDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A vaccine that protects against the miserable symptoms of ragweed allergy for a longer period of time -- and with fewer injections -- could be available in the coming years.

Unlike traditional allergy vaccines that are given weekly for several months, new formulations would require only a few injections and would offer longer-lasting relief.

"What you would hope is that you would get fewer injections less often, less likelihood of an allergic reaction and the same or better improvement in your symptoms," said Dr. William C. Howland III, an allergist and medical director of Lovelace Scientific Resources in Austin, Texas.

Howland has presented research at an American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting showing that just four injections of an investigational ragweed vaccine, called Pollinex Quattro, were safe and effective.

Separately, a research team led by Dr. Peter Creticos, clinical director of the Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center in Baltimore, has led pilot testing of another ragweed vaccine, called Tolamba, developed by Berkeley, Calif.-based Dynavax Technologies Corp. Those results were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Our study was able to demonstrate that after a concise six-week, six-injection regimen, we were able to shut off seasonal symptoms for at least the two seasons we followed the patients in the study," Creticos said.

Ragweed is a type of weed that grows throughout the United States but is most common in the eastern states and in the Midwest. Among Americans who are allergic to pollen-producing plants, 75 percent are allergic to this particular weed, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Ragweed season typically runs from mid-August to October and is a significant c
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