Under-the-Tongue Immunotherapy Curbs Cat Allergy

People who are allergic to cats may not have to get rid of
their pets to find relief, if the findings of a new study hold
up. Tolerance to cats can be built up in allergic kids by
placing increasing doses of standardized cat dander
extract under the tongue, according to Spanish
researchers.

In the medical journal, Allergy, researchers note that a
first-line step for people with cat allergy is to remove cats
from the home. However, this is often rejected or is not
entirely effective, leaving immunotherapy as the only
treatment.

Immunotherapy is based on the idea that the immune
system can "learn" to tolerate allergy triggers if it is
exposed to gradually increasing amounts of the offending
allergen, starting with tiny amounts that don't cause an
allergic reaction.

In sub lingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, the allergen is
placed under the tongue, where it is absorbed into the
system. To see whether SLIT using cat dander extract
works for cat allergies, the researchers randomly assigned
50 allergic youngsters to get daily SLIT drops with
increasing levels of cat allergen or inactive "placebo"
drops, for a year. The participants were then "challenged"
by spending up to 90 minutes exposed to allergens in a
room in which a cat was housed.

Of the 33 participants who completed the SLIT course, 62
percent showed a marked reduction in symptoms
compared to their symptoms before treatment. They also
showed improved peak expiratory flow values during
exposure, and a reduction in skin test reactions to
standardized cat extract. No significant changes were seen
in the group that got placebo drops.

There were no reports of adverse reactions, and the
investigators conclude the results suggesting that the cat
SLIT used in this study was able to improve cat allergy
based on natural exposure challenge.

                                                                                     November 2007
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