Looking ahead, Dr. Leatherman believes that the use of SLIT as a preventive measure may also become more of the norm. “As more SLIT products become available, we may be able to start treating young children with allergic rhinitis, even those who are 2 or 3 years old, to help reduce the risk of subsequently developing asthma—a potentially life-threatening allergic disease,” he said.
Explore This IssueJuly 2015
Sandra Y. Lin, MD, associate professor in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, believes that increasing the use of SLIT could broaden access to immunotherapy. “Patients are able to take SLIT at home, and young children tolerate it better than injections,” she said. “In addition, in medically underserved areas or rural areas, it may be difficult to have accessibility to injections.”
“With the greater understanding of how immunotherapy can prevent asthma and new sensitivities, we may be able to prevent these from happening in children that are highly atopic,” Dr. Lin added.
As the science of immunotherapy advances, new approaches to immune modulation will likely become avail¬able, said Matthew W. Ryan, MD, associate professor in the department of otolaryngology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. For example, allergen molecules can be conjugated to other immunostimulatory molecules to augment the immunologic response to the vaccine. “Small studies using these conjugated allergen vaccines have shown that immunologic tolerance can be accomplished safely with a short course of treatment,” he said. “If additional studies support the efficacy and safety of these agents, it is possible that we will be able to treat patients with a course of subcutaneous injection immunotherapy that lasts months, rather than years.”
Karen Appold is a freelance medical writer based in Pennsylvania.