Potential allergy cure is just under the skin

Seasonal allergies may not be fatal, but are nothing to sneeze at. Fortunately, British researchers think their potential vaccine could be a cheaper and more efficient way to combat hay fever than traditional therapies already on the market.

Seasonal allergies are typically treated with antihistamines, steroids or allergy shots that inject patients with substances they are allergic to in order to build immunity. The researchers, from Imperial College London and King's College London, believe that their technique is more targeted, not to mention non-invasive. More information can be found in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The idea behind the vaccine isn't about what is in it, but where it is injected. In early tests, the team used a shallow injection just underneath the skin's surface, an area that's packed with white blood cells, according to BBC News. With this approach, they can use an injection with a dosage of pollen that is 2,000 times smaller than traditional allergy shots. Not only that, the more-targeted approach they use requires fewer shots to improve immunity. Researchers have tested only 30 patients thus far, but the results showed their allergic reaction to grass pollen decreased, thanks to the vaccine.

It's too soon to tell whether this could reach the mass market. Much more testing is needed and the researchers are launching a 90-patient clinical trial. But the results so far are exciting, researcher Stephen Till told BBC News.

 "If this approach proves to be effective it would define a new scientific and clinical principle that could also be applied to other allergic diseases such as asthma and food allergies," he said.

- get the rundown from BBC News