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36 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT

115 Technology Drive
Trumbull, CT

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Many excellent treatments are available for the long term control of allergies, yet physicians and patients are still looking for more a more convenient and permanent cure. When allergy medications and control of the environment do not produce the desired relief, the next step is to desensitize to the offending allergens. This is currently accomplished by the injection of allergens under the skin at regular interval with increasing doses until a state of tolerance develops. This build-up phase usually takes twenty weeks, and then the injections are given monthly to maintain the state of tolerance. The response rates are up to ninety per cent, but the initial time investment and other responsibilities of daily life can compete for attention. A new experimental allergen may now be able to shorten the time to desensitization to as little as three injections. A research group in Germany using advances bio-molecular engineering has altered cat allergen to a form that is an extremely potent desensitizer. This group has isolated and fused the protein that allows the AIDS virus to enter cells to the cat allergen. There is no risk of HIV infection from this combination. On the other end of the cat allergen is fused a protein that turns off the immune response. Unlike standard allergy shots which are injected under the skin, the three component allergen is injected directly into a lymph gland otherwise known as a "lymph node"  in the groin. After three injections, patients are completely tolerant or desensitized, exhibiting no symptoms when challenged with exposure to cats and airborne cat allergen. If this form of therapy can be shown effective for other allergens, it will be a major step forward for allergy desensitization. Unknowns include overcoming large scale manufacturing problems and the ultimate cost of the drug. Using similar bio-engineered drugs as a model, costs could be thousands of dollars per dose. But if the drug effective, the lifetime savings in medication and doctor visits may justify the price. The public may be wary of a medicine that has any connection to the HIV virus until long term studies prove it is safe. Making a similar fusion protein of the twenty other common allergens will also be a major technical hurdle. people with allergies to minor allergens, such as an unusual mold may need to resor to conventional immunotherapy. In either event, this technique is a milestone that proves a new concept in the immunology of allergies.