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Safety of engineered allergen-specific immunotherapy vaccines

Focke-Tejkl, Margarete; Valenta, Rudolf

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: October 2012 - Volume 12 - Issue 5 - p 555–583
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e328357ca53
Special Commentaries

Purpose of review The purpose of the review is to summarize and comment on recent developments regarding the safety of engineered immunotherapy vaccines.

Recent findings In the last 2 years, several studies were published in which allergy vaccines were developed on the basis of chemical modification of natural allergen extracts, the engineering of allergen molecules by recombinant DNA technology and synthetic peptide chemistry, allergen genes, new application routes and conjugation with immune modulatory molecules. Several studies exemplified the general applicability of hypoallergenic vaccines on the basis of recombinant fusion proteins consisting of nonallergenic allergen-derived peptides fused to allergen-unrelated carrier molecules. These vaccines are engineered to reduce both, immunoglobulin E (IgE) as well as allergen-specific T cell epitopes in the vaccines, and thus should provoke less IgE and T-cell-mediated side-effects. They are made to induce allergen-specific IgG antibodies against the IgE-binding sites of allergens with the T-cell help of the carrier molecule.

Summary Several interesting examples of allergy vaccines with potentially increased safety profiles have been published. The concept of fusion proteins consisting of allergen-derived hypoallergenic peptides fused to allergen-unrelated proteins that seems to be broadly applicable for a variety of allergens appears to be of particular interest because it promises not only to reduce side-effects but also to increase efficacy and convenience of allergy vaccines.

Division of Immunopathology, Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Correspondence to Margarete Focke-Tejkl, PhD, Christian Doppler Laboratory for Allergy Research, Division of Immunopathology, Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology, Medical University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. Tel: +43 1 40400 5132; fax: +43 1 40400 5130; e-mail:

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