Jan. 3 - Clinical trials are set to start on a host of allergy vaccines developed by scientists in Finland. The researchers believe the trial could herald a new era of allergy treatment for millions of sufferers world-wide. Jim Drury reports.
: UPSOT: SNEEZING Allergies are no fun for sufferers...... UPSOT: SNEEZING But scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland believe they've made a major breakthrough. They've developed patented technology to help the body develop resistance to allergens - the protein that causes allergies. Using gene technology they're changing the structure of more than 20 allergens, so they cause less severe symptoms. The team has set up commercial company, Desentum Oy, to develop a series of vaccines. CEO Pekka Mattila..... SOUNDBITE (English) PEKKA MATTILA, CEO OF DESENTUM OY, SAYING: "We can prevent the formation of the IgE-allergen complexes and then introduce an IgG- response within the cell and throughout the IgG response you create your own immune system to work against the allergens." The vaccines follow groundbreaking research by academics including VTT physiology professor Kristiina Takkinen. It showed that allergens can be genetically modified to induce production of the immunoglobulin G, which protects against allergic symptoms. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR KRISTIINA TAKKINEN, OF VTT, AND CO-DEVELOPER OF IGE‐BINDING STRUCTURES IN ALLERGENS, SAYING: "At this moment those results that we have obtained that we have done to confirm our high prophecies they are looking very promising. But still we need more, we'll have to produce more hypo-allergen candidates and look with a bigger patient samples how they are working." The hypoallergens under development would work against the principal allergens, such as birch, grass and ragweed pollen, food proteins and pet allergens. The latter is a concern to the Partio family from Helsinki, who own a dog, cat, and rabbit. Daughters Julia and Jemima are keen to have friends visit them, but mother Tiina says this can be problematic. SOUNDBITE (Finnish) TIINA PARTIO MOTHER OF TWO FROM CAPITAL AREA; SAYING: "It's very sad that some of our daughter's friends are unable to visit us because they are allergic and couldn't stay with us for overnight. It would be very nice to have, for example, some kind of vaccination which would help in these situations." Allergies to common pollen or animals cause misery to sufferers, with symptoms such as itchy eyes, nasal congestion, constant sneezing, and rashes. The first oral vaccination tablets will undergo tests within months, but at least five years of research, testing and licensing will be required before the product can be made available to the public.