Part of the show How Cancers Form, Cancer Biology and Future Therapies
A Swiss company - Cytos Biotechnology - have produced a vaccine which they say can neutralise allergy symptoms for at least 8 months. Ironically it works by fooling the body into thinking that it is suffering from a bacterial infection. Known as CYT003-QbG10, the new vaccine comprises a piece of DNA from a class of microbes know as mycobacteria. This is delivered in the form of a fake virus-like particle that carries the DNA into dendritic cells, which orchestrate the immune response. The mycobacterial DNA fools the immune system into thinking it is fighting a bacterial infection, and as a result it activates what is known as a Th1 response. Th1 responses are strongly linked to fighting infections and also suppress Th2 responses, which are associated with allergies. In initial tests, ten patients with allergies to grass pollen were treated with six weekly injections of the new agent, and five of them completed the course before the pollen season commenced. Amongst those five, there was a marked improvement in allergy symptoms. And when the volunteers were exposed to grass pollen in the laboratory there was a 100-fold reduction in their sensitivity compared with their response before the trial started.