Allergen-specific immunotherapy is the only curative approach for the treatment of allergies. There is an urgent need for improved therapies, which increase both, efficacy and patient compliance. Novel routes of immunization and the use of more advanced vaccine platforms have gained heightened interest in this field. Areas covered: The current status of allergen-specific immunotherapy is summarized and novel routes of immunization and their challenges in the clinics are critically discussed. The use of nanoparticles as novel delivery system for allergy vaccines is comprehensively reviewed. Specifically, the advantages of silica nanoparticles as vaccine carriers and adjuvants are summarized. Expert opinion: Future allergen-specific immunotherapy will combine engineered hypoallergenic vaccines with novel routes of administration, such as the skin. Due to their biodegradability, and the easiness to introduce surface modifications, silica nanoparticles are promising candidates for tailor-made vaccines. By covalently linking allergens and polysaccharides to silica nanoparticles, a versatile vaccination platform can be designed to specifically target antigen-presenting cells, render the formulation hypoallergenic, and introduce immunomodulatory functions. Combining potent skin vaccination methods, such as fractional laser ablation, with nanoparticle-based vaccines addresses all the requirements for safe and efficient therapy of allergic diseases.
Keywords: Allergy; immunotherapy; nanoparticles; silica; skin vaccination.