Allergen-specific immunotherapy was performed by the ancient king Mithridates (132-63 B.C.)

A hundred years ago, Leonhard Noon and John Freeman published their pioneering works on allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) using grass pollen extracts.

ASIT is the only causal treatment of IgE-mediated allergies. The history of ASIT started with the anecdotal descriptions of ASIT performed by the ancient king Mithridates (132–63 B.C.) and Jenner’s development of a cowpox vaccine.

Some of the products used for ASIT include:

- aqueous pollen extracts
- whole bee extracts
- chemically modified allergens (allergoids)
- various recombinant allergens

In addition to allergen-specific immunotherapy, non-specific immune response modifiers have been used in the past, or are in the developmental stage.

Mechanisms of allergen-specific immunotherapy (click to enlarge the image).


Ring J, Gutermuth J. 100 years of hyposensitization: history of allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT). Allergy 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2010.02541.x.

Allergen immunotherapy was introduced by Leonard Noon 100 years ago and is the only disease-modifying treatment for allergic individuals (Allergy, 2012).

Image source:, public domain.

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