Dr Akira Saito, of Wako Filter Technology Co., Ltd., and Dr Daisuke Murakami, of the Graduate School of Medical Science at Kyushu University in Japan, are particularly interested in developing a new treatment to help alleviate both the physical and psychological symptoms of pollinosis and to improve patients' quality of life during allergy seasons. In Japan, an allergen that is particularly prevalent is cedar tree pollen. "According to past research, the prevalence of Japanese cedar pollinosis increased from 16.2 per cent in 1998 to 26.5 per cent in 2008, making it a significant health problem," outlines Saito. Through their research on immunology and immunotherapy, the scientists hope to uncover a new oral treatment that can establish immune tolerance to cedar pollen within a short period of time. "In doing so, we aim to fundamentally alter the field of immunotherapy for the millions of cedar pollinosis patients within Japan, and eventually for pollinosis patients worldwide," he continues. To build on previous research in the field, Saito and Murakami are working to establish a new oral immunisation method for cedar pollinosis and confirm its safety and efficacy. Currently, allergen-specific immunotherapy for pollinosis requires a long-term treatment with potentially severe side effects. However, with the support of KAKENHI (a series of grants that cover pioneering scientific research) and Wako Filter Technology, the team have completed a pilot study, a Phase I and II open trial and a Phase II randomised control trial to examine a new type of pollinosis treatment. The supplement includes capsules that contain the antigen galactomannan - a component extracted from guar gum. More specifically, these capsules have a conjugate of the antigen galactomannan, meaning that a poor antigen is safe and increases antigenicity by wrapping it with safe polysaccharide (galactomannan), thereby eliciting a safer and stronger immunological response. In their 2014 Phase II trial, the team randomly assorted 55 participants with Japanese cedar pollinosis into an active group, which received a daily dose of short-term oral immunotherapy (the antigen galactomannan conjugate capsule), or a placebo group. The study included two sections that took place both before and after pollen season and spanned from the 26th of January to the 19th of May."Patients diligently recorded their weekly nasal and ocular symptoms and their use of rescue drugs (antihistamines) over the course of the study," says Murakami. "The mean symptom-medication score was measured from this data to assess the immunotherapy's efficacy.