Allergy Therapeutics’ vaccine against hayfever has received approval to begin a trial to determine its optimal dose.
Allergy Therapeutics will begin a Phase II trial of its PQ Grass vaccine for grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis imminently. A major selling point for PQ Grass is its ultra-short course, which reduces treatment time from 1 year to just 3-8 weeks. The trial will be carried out in 440 patients across Europe, and results are expected in the second half of 2018, which will help the vaccine continue progressing towards worldwide use.
Grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis is a specific form of hayfever that affects an estimated 90% of sufferers. The main symptoms include excess nasal secretion, itching, sneezing and nasal congestion. It is triggered by the pollen of specific plants, which varies from person-to-person and region-to-region.
The PQ vaccine has three components: an allergoid (chemically modified allergen), which exposes the patient to the allergen but causes reduced allergenicity, so improves the vaccine’s safety. A micro crystalline tyrosine (MCT) adjuvant provides enhances immune exposure and improves tolerability. And, monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) adjuvant is a toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) agonist, which specifically enhances and directs the immune response.
Allergy Therapeutics is targeting PQ Grass at the US market, which it estimates to be worth up to $2B (€1.7B). In direct competition with Allergy Therapeutics is ASIT biotech, a Belgian company that reported positive Phase III results for its immunotherapy to treat grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis earlier this year. More exciting work comes from DBV Technologies, which has developed a patch for peanut allergies in children, and Phase III studies are due to be completed this year.
Allergy Therapeutics has already progressed its birch tree allergy vaccine, PQBirch204, to Phase III, and hopefully, PQ Grass, which uses the same components, will share the same fate. But it has not all been plain sailing in the field. Anergis is active in developing speedy allergy immunotherapies, but a Phase IIb trial testing AllerT, their birch tree allergy candidate, showed only marginally better results than a placebo. Circassia’s TeloroMune vaccine for cat allergies was unsuccessful in Phase III, and their entire allergy pipeline has since been halted.
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