To cite this article: Devillier P, Le Gall M, Horak F. The allergen challenge chamber: a valuable tool for optimizing the clinical development of pollen immunotherapy. Allergy 2011; 66: 163–169.
The clinical development of allergen immunotherapy for allergic rhinoconjunctivitis because of pollen is complicated by seasonal, geographical and subject-related variability in allergen exposure. Using an allergen challenge chamber (ACC), a room that enables reproducible challenges with controlled levels of inhalant allergens for several hours, these factors can be controlled. The ACC has often been used to evaluate symptomatic medications but is underexploited in the field of allergen immunotherapy. When used in conjunction with a programme of natural-exposure trials, the ACC enables researchers to (i) facilitate the allergen immunotherapy dose-finding process, (ii) accelerate the transition from Phase I/II to Phase III trials, (iii) characterize the onset and maintenance of action, (iv) avoid the confounding effects of rescue medication, (v) better characterize the baseline or pretreatment characteristics of trial subjects, (vi) perform better-standardized physical and laboratory measurements during an acute challenge, (vii) simplify trial logistics and use smaller numbers of subjects than would be required in equivalent natural-exposure studies and (viii) support (but not replace) Phase III natural-exposure trials for the investigation into long-term and disease-modifying effects. ACC studies can further increase levels of evidence for allergen immunotherapy – the only current therapy potentially capable of modifying the underlying allergic disease.