[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present guideline (S2k) on allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) was established by the German, Austrian and Swiss professional associations for allergy in consensus with the scientific specialist societies and professional associations in the fields of otolaryngology, dermatology and venereology, pediatric and adolescent medicine, pneumology as well as a German patient organization (German All ergy and Asthma Association; Deutscher Allergic- und Asthmabund, DAAB) according to the criteria of the Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Wissenschalichen Medizinischen Fachgesellschaften, AWMF). AIT is a therapy with disease-modifying effects. By administering allergen extracts, specific blocking antibodies, tolerance-inducing cells and mediators are activated. These prevent further exacerbation of the allergen-triggered immune response, block the specific immune response and attenuate the inflammatory response in tissue. Products for SCIT or SLIT cannot be compared at present due to their heterogeneous composition, nor can allergen concentrations given by different manufacturers be compared meaningfully due to the varying methods used to measure their active ingredients. Non-modified allergens are used for SCIT in the form of aqueous or physically adsorbed (depot) extracts, as well as chemically modified all ergens (allergoids) as depot extracts. Allergen extracts for SLIT are used in the form of aqueous solutions or tablets. The clinical efficacy of AIT is measured using various scores as primary and secondary study endpoints. The EMA stipulates combined symptom and medication scores as primary endpoint. A harmonization of clinical endpoints, e.g., by using the combined symptom and medication scores (CSMS) recommended by the EAACI, is desirable in the future in order to permit the comparison of results from different studies. The current CONSORT re commendations from the ARIA/GA2LEN group specify standards for the evaluation, presentation and publication of study results. According to the therapy allergen ordinance (TAV), preparations containing common allergen sources (pollen from grasses, birch, alder, hazel, house dust mites, as well as bee and wasp venom) need a marketing authorization in Germany. During the marketing authorization process, these preparations are examined regarding quality, safety and efficacy. In the opinion of the authors, authorized allergen preparations with documented efficacy and safety, or preparations tradeable under the TAV for which efficacy and safety have already been documented in clinical trials meeting WAO or EMA standards, should be preferentially used. Individual formulations (NPP) enable the prescription of rare allergen sources (e.g., pollen from ash, mugwort or ambrosia, mold Altemaria, animal allergens) for specific immunotherapy. Mixing these allergens with TAV allergens is not permitted. Allergic rhinitis and its associated co-morbidities (e.g., bronchial asthma) generate substantial direct and indirect costs. Treatment options, in particular AIT, are therefore evaluated using cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses. From a long-term perspective, AIT is considered to be significantly more cost effective in allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma than pharmacotherapy, but is heavily dependent on patient compliance. Meta-analyses provide unequivocal evidence of the efficacy of SCIT and SLIT for certain allergen sources and age groups. Data from controlled studies differ in terms of scope, quality and dosing regimens and require product-specific evaluation. Therefore, evaluating individual preparations according to clearly defined criteria is recommended. A broad transfer of the efficacy of certain preparations to all preparations administered in the same way is not endorsed. The web-site of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (www.dgaki.de/leitlinien/s2k-leitlinie-sit; DGAKI: Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Allergologie und klinische Immunologic) provides tables with specifc information on available products for AIT in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The tables contain the number of clinical studies per product in adults and children, the year of market authorization, underlying scoring systems, number of randomized and analyzed subjects and the method of evaluation (ITT, FAS, PP), separately given for grass pollen, birch pollen and house dust mite allergens, and the status of approval for the conduct of clinical studies with these products. Strong evidence of the efficacy of SCIT in pollen allergy-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in adulthood is well-documented in numerous trials and, in childhood and adolescence, in a few trials. Efficacy in house dust mite allergy is documented by a number of controlled trials in adults and few controlled trials in children. Only a few controlled trials, independent of age, are available for mold allergy (in particular Alternaria). With regard to animal dander allergies (primarily to cat allergens), only small studies, some with methodological deficiencies are available. Only a moderate and inconsistent therapeutic effect in atopic dermatitis has been observed in the quite heterogeneous studies conducted to date. SCIT has been well investigated for individual preparations in controlled bronchial asthma as defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) 2007 and intermittent and mild persistent asthma (GINA 2005) and it is recommended as a treatment option, in addition to allergen avoidance and pharmacotherapy, provided there is a clear causal link between respiratory symptoms and the relevant allergen. The efficacy of SLIT in grass pollen-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is extensively documented in adults and children, whilst its efficacy in tree pollen allergy has only been shown in adults. New controlled trials (some with high patient numbers) on house dust mite allergy provide evidence of efficacy of SLIT in adults. Compared with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, there are only few studies on the efficacy of SLIT in allergic asthma. In this context, newer studies show an efficacy for SLIT on asthma symptoms in the subgroup of grass pollen allergic children, adolescents and adults with asthma and efficacy in primary house dust mite allergy-induced asthma in adolescents aged from 14 years and in adults. Aspects of secondary prevention, in particular the reduction of new sensitizations and reduced asthma risk, are important rationales for choosing to initiate treatment early in childhood and adolescence. In this context, those products for which the appropriate effects have been demonstrated should be considered. SCIT or SLIT with pollen or mite allergens can be performed in patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis using allergen extracts that have been proven to be effective in at least one double-blind placebo-controlled (DBPC) study. At present, clinical trials are underway for the indication in asthma due to house dust mite allergy, some of the results of which have already been published, whilst others are still awaited (see the DGAKI table "Approved/ potentially completed studies" via www.dgaki.de/ leitlinien/s2k-leitlinie-sit (according to www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu)). When establishing the indication for AIT, factors that favour clinical efficacy should be taken into consideration. Differences between SCIT and SLIT are to be considered primarily in terms of contraindications. In individual cases, AIT may be justifiably indicated despite the presence of contraindications. SCIT injections and the initiation of SLIT are performed by a physician experienced in this type of treatment and who is able to administer emergency treatment in the case of an allergic reaction. Patients must be fully informed about the procedure and risks of possible adverse events, and the details of this process must be documented (see "Treatment information sheet"; available as a handout via www.dgaki.de/leitlinien/s2k-leitlinie-sit). Treatment should be performed according to the manufacturer's product information lea et. In cases where MT is to be performed or continued by a different physician to the one who established the indication, close cooperation is required in order to ensure that treatment is implemented consistently and at low risk. In general, it is recommended that SCIT and SLIT should only be performed using preparations for which adequate proof of efficacy is available from clinical trials. Treatment adherence among AIT patients is lower than assumed by physicians, irrespective of the form of administration. Clearly, adherence is of vital importance for treatment success. Improving AIT adherence is one of the most important future goals, in order to ensure efficacy of the therapy. Severe, potentially life-threatening systemic reactions during SCIT are possible, but providing all safety measures are adhered to these events are very rare. Most adverse events are mild-to-moderate and can be treated well. Dose-dependent adverse local reactions occur frequently in the mouth and throat in SLIT. Systemic reactions have been described in SLIT, but are seen far less often than with SCIT. In terms of anaphylaxis and other severe systemic reactions, SLIT has a better safety profile than SCIT. The risk and effects of adverse systemic reactions in the setting of AIT can be e ectively reduced by training of personnel, adhering to safety standards and prompt use of emergency measures, including early administration of i. m. epinephrine. Details on the acute management of anaphylactic reactions can be found in the current S2 guideline on anaphylaxis issued by the AWMF (S2-AWMF-LL Registry Number 061025). MT is undergoing some innovative developments in many areas (e.g., allergen characterization, new administration routes, adjuvants, faster and safer dose escalation protocols), some of which are already being investigated in clinical trials.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Allergy today is a public health concern of pandemic proportions, affecting more than 150 million people in Europe alone. In view of epidemiological trends, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) predicts that within the next few decades, more than half of the European population may at some point in their lives experience some type of allergy.
Not only do allergic patients suffer from a debilitating disease, with the potential for major impact on their quality of life, career progression, personal development and lifestyle choices, but they also constitute a significant burden on health economics and macroeconomics due to the days of lost productivity and underperformance. Given that allergy triggers, including urbanization, industrialization, pollution and climate change, are not expected to change in the foreseeable future, it is imperative that steps are taken to develop, strengthen and optimize preventive and treatment strategies.
Allergen specific immunotherapy is the only currently available medical intervention that has the potential to affect the natural course of the disease. Years of basic science research, clinical trials, and systematic reviews and meta-analyses have convincingly shown that allergen specific immunotherapy can achieve substantial results for patients, improving the allergic individuals’ quality of life, reducing the long-term costs and burden of allergies, and changing the course of the disease. Allergen specific immunotherapy not only effectively alleviates allergy symptoms, but it has a long-term effect after conclusion of the treatment and can prevent the progression of allergic diseases.
Unfortunately, allergen specific immunotherapy has not yet received adequate attention from European institutions, including research funding bodies, even though this could be a most rewarding field in terms of return on investments, translational value and European integration and, a field in which Europe is recognized as a worldwide leader. Evaluation and surveillance of the full cost of allergic diseases is still lacking and further progress is being stifled by the variety of health systems across Europe. This means that the general population remains unaware of the potential use of allergen specific immunotherapy and its potential benefits.
We call upon Europe’s policy-makers to coordinate actions and improve individual and public health in allergy by:
Promoting awareness of the effectiveness of allergen specific immunotherapy
Updating national healthcare policies to support allergen specific immunotherapy
Prioritising funding for allergen specific immunotherapy research
Monitoring the macroeconomic and health economic parameters of allergy
Reinforcing allergy teaching in medical disciplines and specialties
The effective implementation of the above policies has the potential for a major positive impact on European health and well-being in the next decade.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article is the result of consensus reached by a working group of clinical experts in paediatric allergology as well as representatives from an ethical committee and the European Medicine Agency (EMA). The manuscript covers clinical, scientific, regulatory and ethical perspectives on allergen-specific immunotherapy in childhood. Unmet needs are identified. To fill the gaps and to bridge the different points of view, recommendations are made to researchers, to scientific and patient organizations and to regulators and ethical committees. Working together for the benefit of the community is essential. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) serves as the platform of such cooperation.
No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is a risk factor for asthma development. Treating the underlying allergy may represent an attractive method of asthma prevention. No regulatory guidance exists in this area, and, to our knowledge, no clinical investigations meeting modern regulatory standards have been published.
The objective of this publication is to describe the rationale behind the design of and report on the recruitment for the ongoing pediatric Grazax Asthma Prevention (GAP) trial.
The trial was designed for assessment of the preventive effect of an SQ-standardized grass allergy immunotherapy tablet (AIT) on asthma development, both during treatment and after the end of treatment. (The standardized quality [SQ] procedure is a standardization procedure comprising 3 components: total potency, major allergen content, and assessment of extract complexity.) The trial design was discussed with several European Competent Authorities.
The GAP trial is a multinational, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial. Main eligibility criteria were age of 5 to 12 years, grass pollen-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, no asthma, and no overlapping symptomatic allergies. The children have been randomized 1:1 to receive the grass AIT or placebo once daily for 3 years, followed by a blinded observational period of 2 years. Asthma is assessed by the investigators according to specific diagnostic criteria, used at screening visits before randomization to exclude children with existing asthma, and evaluated at least half-yearly during the trial. Seven months of screening resulted in 812 randomized children at 101 centers in 11 countries.
To our knowledge, the GAP trial represents the first double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial to assess the preventive effect of allergen-specific immunotherapy on asthma development. A total of 812 children were successfully recruited into the trial. EudraCT number: 2009-011235-12.
No preview · Article · Oct 2011 · Clinical Therapeutics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Food allergens are frequent causes of anaphylaxis. In particular in children and adults they are frequent elicitors of severe allergic reactions, whereas in adults food allergens range among venom and drugs. Since 2006 severe allergic reactions from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are collected in the anaphylaxis registry. Currently 78 hospitals and private practises are connected. From July 2006 until February 2009 1,156 severe allergic reactions were registered. Among children and adolescents (n = 187, age range from 3 months to 17 years) food allergens were with 58% the most frequent elicitors. In the adult group (n = 968, 18 - 85 years) food allergens were on the third position (16.3%) following venom and drugs. In children legumes (31%) and in particular peanuts were frequently responsible food allergens, followed by tree nuts (25%) where hazelnut was the most frequent elicitor. In adults fruits (13.4%) induced most often severe food dependent anaphylaxis, but also animal products (12.2%); among these most frequently crustaceans and mussels. Cofactors were often suspected in food dependent anaphylaxis, namely in 39% of the adult group and in 14% of the children and adolescence group. In adults drugs (22%) and physical activity (10%) were reported as the most frequent cofactors, in children physical activity was suspected in 8.7% and drugs in 2.6%. Concomitant diseases like atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis were reported in 78% of children and adolescents and in 67% of the adults. In conclusion foodinduced anaphylaxis, their cofactors and concomitant diseases in affected patients are age-dependent. The data offers to identify risk factors of anaphylaxis.