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FASEB J. 2002 Aug;16(10):1301-3. Epub 2002 Jun 21.

Combination vaccines for the treatment of grass pollen allergy consisting of genetically engineered hybrid molecules with increased immunogenicity.

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Department of Pathophysiology, Vienna General Hospital, AKH, University of Vienna, Austria.


Most of the 400 million grass pollen-allergic patients worldwide are co-sensitized to several unrelated grass pollen allergens. Based on frequent co-sensitization patterns determined in 200 grass pollen-allergic patients, three recombinant hybrid molecules were developed by polymerase chain reaction-based mending of cDNAs coding for the major timothy grass pollen allergens (Phl p 1, Phl p 2, Phl p 5, Phl p 6) for vaccination against grass pollen allergy. The hybrids rP2-P6, rP6-P2, and rP5-P1 contained most of the epitopes of natural grass pollen extract and induced stronger lymphoproliferative responses in cultured mononuclear cells of grass pollen-allergic patients than did equimolar mixtures of the individual allergens. Immunization of mice with the hybrids yielded higher antibody titers than did immunization with the individual allergen components or grass pollen extract, which suggests that the individual components of the hybrids can serve as molecular scaffolds for each other to enhance their immunogenicity. Antibodies induced with the hybrids in mice inhibited the binding of grass pollen-allergic patients' immunoglobulin E to each of the individual allergens and grass pollen extract and may thus represent protective antibodies. The principle of increasing the immunogenicity of antigens by engineering hybrids thereof may be applied not only for the treatment of polysensitized allergic patients but also for general vaccine development.

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