At a glance: Swiss biotech company Cytos targets hayfever

Some relief from the pollen curse?

Zurich-based Cytos Biotechnology reckons help might be at hand. This week it released details of its new product, a potentially universal vaccine for the treatment of allergic diseases. It’s snappily called CYT003-QbG10 and aims to cure seasonal allergic rhinitis.

More commonly known as hayfever?
Exactly. It is the medical name for a condition due to allergy that mimics a cold. Rhinitis simply means ‘irritation of the nose’ – which won’t surprise people whose hankies are currently in constant use during waking hours. In the Swiss trial, sufferers treated with six weekly injections showed a marked improvement in symptoms and an increase of allergen tolerance, according to the company.

Sounds promising. What happens now?
These are very early stage trials and Cytos is starting wider tests. PR for the new drug is being handled in-house by Claudine Blaser, Cytos’s director of corporate comms.

For now, what can sufferers use?
Antihistamine tablets are a common remedy, but there are alternatives. For example, GlaxoSmithKline’s Flixonase nasal spray has been heavily promoted as the most effective hayfever remedy without prescription. Cohn & Wolfe recently took over work for GSK’s over-the-counter allergy portfolio (PRWeek, 30 March). C&W associate director Pat Hindley leads the account, reporting to brand manager Helly Seeley.

Anything happening at the ‘natural’ products end of the market?
Nasaleze, manufactured by Dendron, is being promoted as a ‘natural’ alternative for hayfever sufferers. Pegasus PR started a campaign in February, before the sniffles started, in order to get summer coverage in long-lead women’s monthlies.

Why those magazines particularly?
Because Nasaleze, which contains a natural cellulose powder, is safe for pregnant women, and children, to use, which is not the case with all remedies. Pegasus is also targeting family and kids’ pages in the nationals. The agency’s account director is Natalie Flynn. She reports to Dendron brand manager Karly Sadler.

How big a problem is hayfever?
The World Health Organisation estimates that more than a fifth of the world’s population suffers from allergic diseases, including hayfever.

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