A new vaccine has been developed that could obliterate common allergies like asthma, pollen and hayfever that afflict millions of people.
The 'hygiene hypothesis' suggests that allergies may occur indirectly due to too much cleanliness as it deprives the immune system of a proper training against germs that have lived with humans for millions of years. As a result, the body begins to produce reactions against harmless substances like grass pollen.
This theory was exploited by a Swiss-based Cytos Biotechnology company to develop an anti-allergy drug that makes the immune system to focus on mycobacteria. This drug called CYT003 - QbG10 activates the immune system to attack potentially larger threats like mycobacteria, a group of bacteria found in soil and water that are come across rarely these days due to modern cleanliness.
In this manner, the immune system is deceived and made to forget the allergens and look for bigger threats.
A study was conducted on 10 people with hay fever. It was found that there was a 100-fold reduction in the patient's sensitivity to grass pollen after a 6-weeks course of injections.
A previous study reveals drug's efficacy against house dust mite allergy. The patients were without any symptoms for one year when the drug was given along with doses of the allergen.
The researchers used a DNA strand that imitates mycobacteria's genetic material. This DNA is packed into a fake virus particle and delivered into the body. This is taken up by the immune system.
The company is currently testing the drug in over 100 people with hay fever, house dust mite allergy, and allergic dermatitis. The results are expected to be out in the first half of 2007.