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One hundred years of immunotherapy: Review of the first landmark studies

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In 2011, one hundred years of allergen immunotherapy was celebrated. Several landmark studies date from the first decades of experience with this treatment and are still cited today, often without analysis of the original articles. Original articles of the oldest landmark studies on subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy were sought and reviewed in detail, together with some publications on their authors' historical background. Details that might be of importance to the present allergists are highlighted in this article. Study design, preparation of allergen extracts used for immunotherapy and clinical findings of the following studies are discussed. For the European school, Noon 1911 was the first report of successful application of grass pollen extract; Frankland 1954 was the first double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial (DBPC-RCT) in SCIT. For the European school: Noon published the first report of successful application of grass pollen extract (1911); Frankland was the first double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial (DBPC-RCT) in SCIT (1954). For the American line: Clowes published the first successful trial of ragweed SCIT (1913); Cooke used skin prick testing as diagnostic method (1915); Loveless used venom immunotherapy with purified venom (not whole body extract) (1956); in 1961/1968 Johnstone showed in a DBPC-RCT dose-effect of an allergen mix and highly significant asthma reduction after up to 14 yrs of treatment of asthmatic children; Lowell and Franklin did the first DB-RCT demonstrating ragweed pollen efficacy as part of a multi-allergen mix and 1967 ragweed pollen extract dose response. We discuss the first studies for SLIT in 1927 from Black (oral-IT versus SCIT) and 1986 from Scadding, DBPC-RCT with house dust mite extract. We conclude that an in-depth review of investigators' observations, methods, and thoughts, however, can also be enriching for investigators in the field today.
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Keywords: Allergen; allergen extract; allergen immunotherapy; allergic rhinitis; desensitization; history; venom immunotherapy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2012

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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