Background: We present data showing that a Th1-inducing adjuvant can reduce the number of injections required for allergy vaccination. Allergy vaccination is the only treatment for type 1 hypersensitivity that can alter the underlying disease process. A switch of specific T-cell activity from Th2 >Th1 to Th1 >Th2 is believed to be an important change seen after long-term vaccination therapy. An immunologic adjuvant that enhances such a switch could be used to reduce the number of injections required. This would improve compliance with the treatment and provide pharmacoeconomic advantages. Such an adjuvant is 3-deacylated monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL adjuvant, Corixa).
Methods: A multicentre, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind clinical study was performed with a new standardized allergy vaccine comprising a tyrosine-adsorbed glutaraldehyde-modified grass pollen extract containing MPL adjuvant. Four subcutaneous injections of the active product were given preseasonally to 81 grass pollen-sensitive subjects, and 60 received placebo injections (tyrosine alone). Diary cards were used to record symptoms and medication taken during approximately 30 days of the grass pollen season.
Results: There was a statistical advantage in favour of the active treatment for nasal (P = 0.016) and ocular (P = 0.003) symptoms and combined symptom and medication scores (P=0.013). Titrated skin prick testing revealed a significant reduction of skin sensitivity in the active group compared to placebo (P = 0.04). Grass-pollen-specific IgG antibody was raised by active treatment (P < 0.01). A rise in IgE antibody was seen in the placebo group during the season (P < 0.01). The first year's treatment rise of IgE was not seen in the active group, and no rise occurred during the pollen season. More local adverse events were seen in the active group. There was no difference in generalized adverse events.
Conclusion: A new, well-tolerated allergy vaccine, incorporating a Th1-inducing adjuvant, MPL, was efficacious and after only four preseasonal injections produced antibody changes normally associated with long injection schedules. This may encourage wider application of allergy vaccination. The vaccine is now available in a number of countries as Pollinex Quattro.