Hay Fever Sufferers May Soon Be Able To Breathe Easier
Posted October 9, 2006 9:49 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — People who suffer from hay fever can take over-the-counter remedies or even try allergy shots, but new relief may be on the way.
Judy Taylor said she has suffered from severe allergies all her life, including hay fever.
"I used to always feel like I was stuffed up, like I had a sinus infection non-stop," Taylor said.
Today, Taylor is breathing easier, thanks to a super shot being tested at Johns Hopkins University. Researchers have developed a vaccine that attacks hay fever.
People with hay fever are allergic because their immune system produces a certain antibody. The new vaccine shuts off that antibody. For some patients, things like sneezing, itchy eyes and runny nose become less severe or go away.
In the study, 14 patients, including Taylor, were each given six shots in six weeks. Overall, the group reported a significant reduction in allergy symptoms. It has been two years since Taylor's last injection, and she said she is no longer on any medication.
"I feel very comfortable walking outside whereas before, my eyes would water, my nose would run," she said.
Dr. Peter Creticos, an allergy and asthma researcher at Johns Hopkins University, is now testing the vaccine on a larger study group. He believes the vaccine could replace the need for over-the-counter medicines.
"The person that can now receive six injections, turn off their disease for, let's hope, many years, will throw away those medicines. They won't need them any more," he said.
Years of testing still remain to see if the vaccine works on a widespread basis. Researchers are also trying to develop vaccines against other allergies, including grass and dust.