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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Apr;119(4):769-79. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

Allergen immunotherapy: where is it now?

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  • 1National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


The scientific basis and the proof of clinical effectiveness of allergen immunotherapy administered by subcutaneous injection (SCIT) are well established. It is effective treatment for sensitivity to Hymenoptera venom and for allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma. SCIT administered in the proper setting reduces the development of new sensitivities and progression from rhinitis to asthma. Further, the beneficial effects persist long after completion of a course of treatment. Although many people enjoy the benefits of SCIT, extension of its use to the many others who might be candidates for this treatment is limited by its drawbacks of safety concerns and the inconvenience of repeated clinic visits over several years to receive the injections. There are many attempts underway to improve on the safety and convenience while still retaining the benefits of SCIT. These include approaches using current allergen extracts, especially by administering them sublingually. Alternatively, through recombinant technology, extracts are being modified to reduce their allergenicity without reducing their immunogenicity. They are being linked to immunostimulatory DNA sequences that will modify their in vivo processing resulting in an enhanced nonallergic response or they are being incorporated into fusion proteins with inhibitory properties for mast cells and basophils.

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