What is Immunotherapy?

As early at 1910 doctors were experimenting with immunisations against hay fever 1.  This was replicated in 1914 by Freeman et al. using a bigger sample size findings from studies were published in the highly respected journal The Lancet 2. Since then research has continued into allergen specific immunotherapy and today it is practiced all over the world with standard operating procedures published by the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI). Allergy immunotherapy is offered by allergy specialists in both the NHS and private allergy treatment centres.

The two methods of immunotherapy currently used both of which are based on introducing a small amount of allergen into the body, often in increasing doses, to encourage the body’s immune system to tolerate allergens:

Subcutaneous injection immunotherapy (SCIT) which is a small injection containing a specified amount of allergen or allergen components. This will be administered regularly by a healthcare professional over a specified period.

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) which can be a drop, oral-spray or an under-tongue tablet. Again, containing specified concentration of allergens or allergy components. Often administered at home by the patient after the initial supervised dose with regular check-ups with an allergy specialist.

Both immunotherapies have proven safety profiles taken under medical supervision.

 

  1. Noon, L. PROPHYLACTIC INOCULATION AGAINST HAY FEVER. Lancet 177, 1572–1573 (1911).
  2. Freeman, J. VACCINATION AGAINST HAY FEVER: REPORT OF RESULTS DURING THE LAST THREE YEARS. Lancet 183, 1178–1180 (1914).