A vaccine to end the misery of hayfever could be available in three years, scientists claim.
They created a synthetic version of grass pollen, which cut the classic symptoms of wheezing and itchy eyes by 25 per cent.
Just three injections a year could leave sufferers symptom-free, it is claimed.
At least a quarter of Britons suffer from the condition, which is an overreaction of the body to plant pollen. The research, led by the Medical University of Vienna, shows the vaccine, which treats hayfever triggered by grass pollen, cut symptoms by a quarter in two years.
A larger study is planned for next year, and Dr Rudolf Valenta, who led the vaccine development, said the drug could be available in chemists as early as 2021.
Dr Valenta, head of immunopathology at the university, said: ‘The vaccine will lead to an almost complete relief of symptoms after two or three years after injections.
‘People will be able to defend themselves from grass pollen using their own immune system, without having to take expensive anti-inflammatory drugs which may weaken their immune system and make them tired.’
In the study, either the drug or a placebo were given to 180 people who rated their symptoms of wheeziness, itchy eyes and hayfever-induced asthma over two pollen seasons. They also recorded how much medication they had to take to battle hayfever, from which a total score was drawn up by scientists, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports. The score was 25 per cent lower in those given the vaccine, which indicated their symptoms were more under control. The vaccine is made from proteins created in the lab to mimic those in pollen. They do not, however, bind to antibodies, which is the process that sets off the telltale allergic reaction.