The European Association of Research and Technology Organizations 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 commercializing 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 organizations, 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.
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 desensitization 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 commercialization 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 industrialized 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.