Allergies mediated by immunoglobulin E (IgE) are the most common immunological hypersensitivity diseases. The prevalence has been continuously increasing in recent decades, and more than 25% of the population is currently affected. Symptoms of allergies can be observed in the skin and respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and systemic manifestations include anaphylactic shock. If an allergy is not properly diagnosed and treated, it tends to progress to a severe and chronic debilitating disease. Understanding the mechanisms by which the immune system induces and controls allergic inflammation depends on knowing the structure of several allergens and identifying epitopes, which are critical for the design of new strategies for treating allergies. Strategies for immunotherapy will be reviewed. Allergen‐specific immunotherapy has been used for nearly a century and remains one of the few antigen‐specific treatments for inflammatory diseases. There is a strong rationale for improving the efficacy of allergen‐specific immunotherapy by reducing the incidence and severity of adverse reactions mediated by IgE. Approaches to address this problem, including the use of modified allergens, synthetic peptides as vaccines, and alternative strategies for blocking IgE, will be discussed.
Part of the book: Allergen