The European Association of Research and Technology Organisations EARTO has
awarded VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland an innovation prize for the
technological development work behind allergy vaccine. VTT patented technology
helps the human body to develop resistance to allergens. The award ceremony
was held in Brussels on Wednesday 4 December. VTT also has last year's EARTO
innovation prize for its bio-oil production process.
VTT spin-off Desentum Ltd is responsible for developing and commercialising
new generation allergy vaccines based on VTT technology. The first vaccines
will be ready for launch in about five years.
“The innovation behind the allergy vaccine is a good example of just how
significant the impact of science and technology on society can be. This is
the second time EARTO has awarded VTT its innovation prize. Considering EARTO
has around 300 member organisations, winning the prize in two consecutive
years speaks volumes for the high level and impact of our research and
development work,” says Johanna Buchert, Vice President, Strategic Research,
VTT's patents are based on application of gene technology to alter the
structure of an allergen – a protein causing allergy – so that it will cause
fewer allergic symptoms while remaining effective in desensitisation therapy.
The foundation for the development work rests on a scientific breakthrough
made in a cooperation project involving VTT, the University of Eastern Finland
and HUCH Skin and Allergy Hospital. Research scientists were able to determine
how an IgE antibody binds an allergen, and were the first to present a
detailed 3D structure. The complex proved to be different from that
anticipated by scientists around the world.
Desentum Ltd, the VTT spin-off responsible for the development and
commercialisation of the allergy vaccine, plans to start phase I clinical
trials within a year. The first allergy vaccines could enter the market in
about five years. These are expected to alleviate the symptoms of common
allergies such as pollen, animal and food allergies.
According to estimates, allergies are among the top five costliest disease
groups in industrialised countries. The estimated number of people suffering
from allergies in Europe is more than 80 million, with 65 million in the US.
Allergic rhinitis affects around 25 per cent of the European population. The
estimated market for the new allergy vaccines is approximately EUR 366 million
in Europe and approximately USD 700–800 million worldwide.
EARTO (European Association of Research and Technology Organisations) is an
organisation established to protect the interests of European research and
technology organisations. It plays a key role as a point of contact with the
European Commission and other institutions, particularly in research-related
matters. Through its activities, EARTO seeks to promote the R&D operations of
its 300 member organisations.
Watch the video on allergy vaccine: http://www.vtt.fi/img/video/vtt_allergy_vaccine.mp4