An immunotherapy pill for ragweed allergies?

People with allergies can sometimes undergo immunotherapy (also known as desensitization) in order to reduce the intensity of their allergy. The treatment is fairly effective, but it involves getting injections over many months of treatment. Tests are currently underway on a new tablet form of ragweed immunotherapy that would make the process much simpler for people who suffer from this type of allergy.

People with allergies can sometimes undergo immunotherapy (also known as desensitization) in order to reduce the intensity of their allergy. The treatment is fairly effective, but it involves getting injections over many months of treatment. Tests are currently underway on a new tablet form of ragweed immunotherapy that would make the process much simpler for people who suffer from this type of allergy. Researchers recruited proven ragweed allergy sufferers for a 52-week study. The participants were assigned to one of four groups – three groups taking the medication on trial, but at different doses, and one group taking a placebo. In addition to the treatment supplied by the researchers, participants could also use rescue medication (e.g. antihistamines) to relieve their symptoms. The highest of the three doses yielded the best results, with an average symptom reduction of 27 percent in the one-year study follow-up, without a significant increase in adverse effects. The latter were usually benign, the most common being localized irritation of the mouth or throat, which was probably caused by the type of tablet used (sublingual tablets, i.e. the type that you let dissolve under the tongue). These results are very encouraging because they pave the way for an effective ragweed allergy treatment that would be much more accessible and pleasant than immunotherapy injections. The findings also raise the hope that this approach could be applied to other types of allergies that respond to immunotherapy. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds!

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