Combination treatment could be more effective for cat allergy

Cat in a box

New research has shown that standard cat allergy treatment can be enhanced to make it more effective and faster acting, and the benefits last for a year after treatment ends.

These results show for the first time that adding a cytokine inhibitor to allergy shots could reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms for an extended period after just one year of treatment.

The findings of the study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 

Allergen immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that decreases allergy symptoms for people with conditions such as allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma by reducing their sensitivity to allergens. Achieving persistent symptom relief requires at least three years of allergy shots, however, and does not work for everyone.

Sufferers have reduced quality of life

“People with chronic allergy symptoms may suffer from reduced productivity and quality of life,” said Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH.

“Developing allergen immunotherapy regimens that work better and more quickly than those currently available would provide much-needed relief for many people.”

NIAID-supported investigators tested whether giving monoclonal antibody tezepelumab plus immunotherapy to people with a cat allergy would safely provide better and faster long-lasting symptom relief. 

Allergic rhinitis involves inflammation of the nasal membranes and causes symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, watery eyes, problems with smell, and an itchy nose, mouth, or eyes.

Changes to gene network activity

The Phase I/II clinical trial, called CATNIP, was led by Jonathan Corren and conducted by the NIAID-funded Immune Tolerance Network. Tezepelumab was donated for the trial by Amgen and AstraZeneca.

The investigators found that participants’ worst nasal symptoms were 36% lower by the end of treatment in the group that received tezepelumab plus allergy shots compared to the group that received allergy shots alone, and 24% lower a year later. 

An analysis of blood and nasal cell samples revealed that the combination treatment caused changes in gene network activity that reduced the activation of allergy-related immune cells on the inner lining of the nose, helping suppress allergic nasal symptoms. 

Plans are now underway for a NIAID-supported Phase II trial of tezepelumab plus oral immunotherapy for food allergy. 

The CATNIP investigators are also further analysing the study data to understand how the treatment works at a cellular level to identify the people who may benefit the most. 

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