Researchers at Monash University have found that taking one small tablet containing grass pollen every day can prevent seasonal allergies such as hay fever and thunderstorm asthma.
at monash study Including 27 participants who suffered from allergies to grass pollen, researchers found that sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) provided protection against thunderstorm asthma and hay fever. Additionally, they found that the immune memory cells of study participants were altered in an unexpected way by ingesting small grass pollen tablets.
In an email to The Epoch Times, principal investigator Professor Menno van Zelm of Monash University’s Central Clinical School said dissolving the pills under the tongue each day would provide controlled exposure at a defined dose. said.
“This has been shown to be optimal for retraining the immune system with fewer side effects. Airway exposure to grass causes more symptoms in individuals with allergies and is not dose controlled. uh,” he said.
Professor van Zelm said that by dissolving the tablet under the tongue, the extract is taken up by cells under the tongue and presented to the immune system under conditions that induce immune tolerance.
“It also limits adverse reactions that may occur when swallowing,” he said.
at Monash University news releasevan Zelm said the process behind how SLIT stimulates the immune system to provide protection against allergens has so far been poorly understood.
“Understanding these processes is key to developing new therapies, and to generating ways to test whether these new therapies are working by finding biomarkers of immunity. is.
The study was conducted in 2019 and involved 27 participants affected by symptoms Seasonal rhinitis, rhinoconjunctivitis At least once a week due to their allergies.
According to van Zelm, selected participants in the study were patients with allergies to ryegrass pollen. Ryegrass is a leading cause of seasonal rhinitis and asthma in Victoria.
“In Victoria, grass pollen immunotherapy is recommended outside pollen season to prevent overexposure during the season,” he said.
Sublingual immunotherapy will be given from March to September, van Helm said. Therefore, blood samples were extracted outside the pollen season, which occurs mainly from October to December, April/May, and September.
Participants were divided into groups of 13 and 14. In a group of 13 people, he was given tablets containing microdoses of five types of grass pollen for four months. The four-month period he started in May or June.
“The treatment available in Victoria is an over-the-counter tablet developed by Stallergenes-Greer, a company based in France and the United States,” he said.
“Their aim was to cover a large population and therefore they developed a table containing extracts of five grass pollen species. It has been shown to be effective.”
Hay fever and asthma in a group of 14 individuals were treated using usual preventive therapies such as antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids.
“Even with thunderstorm asthma, treatment works well to prevent symptoms, but we recommend that all patients have other medications on hand and heed thunderstorm asthma warnings.
Current treatments for thunderstorm asthma and hay fever
grass pollen allergy affects 20 percent of the world’s population; they can disrupt school, work, and general life for those afflicted and are the underlying cause of thunderstorm asthma.
Professor Francis Tien, dean of respiratory medicine at Eastern Health University and Monash University, said in an email to The Epoch Times that the moisture produced by thunderstorms triggers thunderstorm asthma.
“Moisture from thunderstorms releases very fine allergen particles from grass pollen, and thunderstorm air currents push them to ground level, where they can be inhaled into the lower respiratory tract and trigger an asthma attack.” Tien said.
Thien pointed out that grass pollen allergies usually cause hay fever symptoms of itchy nose, throat and eyes, along with sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion.
“These can be treated with antihistamine tablets and steroid nasal sprays from chemists,” he said.
However, some people may experience respiratory symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
“If you have respiratory symptoms, ask your doctor if you need an asthma inhaler.”
Asthma symptoms require treatment with inhalers that deliver bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs, Thien said.
“If you can’t get off your inhaler and need more than 2-3 times in an hour or more than 12 times a day, you should go to a hospital emergency department for an evaluation.”
Of the group of 13 people who received the tablet, 12 reported clinical benefit from treatment after 2 years compared to the group who did not receive the grass pollen tablet. To understand her two-year period of positive effects of treatment, researchers looked at her B cells.
B cells are a type of immune cell that make antibodies, van Zelm said. They have the ability to retain immune memory against foreign invaders such as allergens.
“In allergic reactions, IgE The type of antibody is the molecule that causes the problem. ”
“The goal of therapy is to change the response of B cells so that they don’t make IgE, but other types of antibodies, especially IgG”
Researchers found that after four months of treatment, memory B cells were reprogrammed and expressed new markers.
van Zelm found that B cells immune biomarkerResearchers can use this to objectively measure the efficacy of new treatments.
“These cells remain very long-lasting in response to treatment and are specific to particular treatments, making them a very important way to monitor the success of new anti-allergic therapies.
Importance of biomarkers
It generally takes about 3-5 years of treatment before allergen immunotherapy is effective. Therefore, it is important to determine early whether treatments are working through tools such as immune biomarkers so that patients can receive optimal treatment as quickly as possible.
van Helm said it is not known why allergen immunotherapy takes so long to be effective.
“Long-term treatment (at least 3 years x 4 months) is required for long-lasting effects,” he said.
“This means that the effects remain even after discontinuation. Often this is only for a few years and requires additional treatment.”
“Importantly, there are large individual differences and we do not know why.
He also said that there are individual differences in the effect of treatment, so biological markers that show the effect of treatment are absolutely necessary.
“Our research is now focused on dust mites, the leading global cause of allergic asthma. We are studying the effects of similar types of treatments on this allergy.”