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Expatriate Healthcare News: Scientists develop innovative hayfever vaccine

A new vaccine is being developed that might help hayfever sufferers by inoculating them against the allergy in a less invasive, cheaper and more effective manner than currently-available treatments.

Researchers at Kings College London and Imperial College London have performed an investigation into a vaccine with results that are so encouraging, a clinical trial with Guy's Hospital has been set up.

Their discovery has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and was funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council.

It is hoped that the discovery will mark a breakthrough in international healthcare, treating allergic reactions in a completely new way that could be extended to food intolerances and asthma.

The vaccination involves injection with a number of low-dose allergens into the intradermal layers of the skin resulted in a 90 per cent fall in the skin's sensitivity to grass pollens.

Currently, vaccines typically utilise high doses of the allergen, which are injected into the skin's lower subcutaneous layers or consumed through drops under the tongue or in tablets.

These methods can often require continuous treatments or significant volumes of vaccine, which can prove to be expensive for international health insurance providers and national healthcare systems, as well as inconvenient for members of the public.

"The results of our study are hugely exciting. We now want to find out if this process can also switch off grass allergy in the nose and improve hayfever symptoms," senior lecturer at King's College London Dr Stephen Till said.

He pointed out the allergy "can have a serious impact on people's everyday lives".

Hayfever is one of the UK's most common diseases, affecting approximately one-quarter of all people in the UK.

Generally, the condition causes itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny or blocked nose, as well as asthma-like symptoms in some people.

It can interfere with people's educational or work performance and get in the way of social activities and sleep.

Around 50 per cent of all sufferers report an improvement in their symptoms after several years of the allergy becoming apparent, while in between ten and 20 per cent of cases, symptoms appear to completely disappear.

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