Single vaccine that could wipe out common allergiesLast updated at 09:49 02 October 2006
Allergies including hayfever could soon be a thing of the past
Allergies that blight the lives of millions could be wiped out with a vaccine that wards off asthma, eczema and hay fever.
In only four years, a 'one size fits all' jab could be on the shelves.
Muriel Simmons, chief executive of the charity Allergy UK, said: "This has the power to transform people's lives."
The research comes as theUK struggles tocopewithanallergy epidemic, with one in three - 18million people- developing an allergy in their lifetime.
Rates of asthma have doubled in the past 20 years, with the condition affecting five million in England alone. Figures for hay fever have also soared, with one in four suffering an allergy to pollen. Up to 2,400 children a year are taken to hospital with severe eczema, contributing to the health service's annual £1billion bill.
The latest research, by Swiss firm Cytos Biotechnology, centres around a vaccine with the power to cancel out allergic reactions. The jab, which has been tested on humans, contains harmless DNA similar to that found in the TB bug.
This DNA fools the immune system into thinking it is under attack by a dangerous bug - and kick-starts disease-fighting white blood cells.
In a trial 20 men and women with asthma and house dust mite allergy were given the vaccine once a week for six weeks. Eight months later, symptoms in 17 of the 20 had all but disappeared.
Tests showed they were at least 100 times more tolerant to dust mites than before, this week's New Scientist reports.
Medicines already on the market, such as anti-histamine tablets and steroids, can ease symptoms but are short-acting.
Dr Wolfgang Renner, Cytos chief executive, said: The results we have had look quite spectacular. We think this is a one size fits all treatment.'
The company is also developing anti-smoking and obesity vaccines. Trials on food allergies are expected to follow.
It is hoped a single jab with the power to protect against asthma, eczema and hay fever will be on sale by 2010.