Sublingual Immunotherapy Research Packs a Powerful Punch

It was roughly 100 years ago that clinicians began to discover the effectiveness of sublingual (under-the-tongue) immunotherapy for allergies. It’s hard to discount the growing body of research in favor of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) which involves dispensing antigen under the tongue (rather than injecting
it into the skin).

Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have established SLIT’s effectiveness in the past 20 years alone. In fact, a 2007 paper published by the multi-nation ARIA collaboration (Allergy Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma) showed that not only is there more current research on sublingual immunotherapy (as comparedto allergy shots or SCIT), but according to the World Health Organization, the SLIT studies are also of a higher quality than allergy shot (SCIT) studies.  Furthermore, the Cochrane Review (the most credible, evidence-based meta-analysis entity worldwide) identified sublingual immunotherapy as both safe and efficacious in their 2003 report.

Key research includes a 2003 study1 published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy that affirmed the effectiveness of sublingual immunotherapy in children with dust mite allergy over a 10-year period. Additionally, a landmark 2004 placebo-controlled, double-blind, double-dummy study2 published in Allergy brought SLIT and SCIT head to head and found SLIT to demonstrate comparable clinical efficacy. The only studies (and they are few) that question the efficacy of SLIT are significantly dated or have since been called into question.

Shots are still prescribed more commonly in America but not so in other parts of the world such as Europe where, in some countries, sublingual immunotherapy is at least as commonly prescribed as shots. More and more U.S. allergy physicians and researchers are pressing for full governmental and regulatory recognition of SLIT in the U.S. with plenty of indisputable evidence to help make their case. And as Americans’ appetite for a safer, less time-consuming treatment than allergy shots increases, SLIT is looking more and more attractive.

1 Di Rienzo V, Canonica GW, Passalacqua G. Long-lasting effect of sublingual immunotherapy in children with asthma due to house dust mite: a 10 year
prospective study. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 2003;33:206-210.

2 Khinchi M. Clinical efficacy of sublingual and subcutaneous birch pollen allergen-specific immunotherapy:A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind,
double-dummy study. Allergy. 2004;59:45-53.