We specialise in the treatment of allergy and environmental illness using the proven technique of allergen-specific low-dose immunotherapy (LDI).
If you’re currently a patient of Breakspear Medical and wish to re-order your LDI vaccines, see section below: How to re-order
The technique of low-dose immunotherapy employs intradermal skin tests of sequentially lower concentrations of antigens, until a wheal response that does not increase in size is obtained. This concentration of the antigen can then safely be used in regular low-dose desensitisation treatment.
The technique originated in the United States and is used by over 3,000 doctors worldwide. An estimated 30 million patients have been treated without significant adverse effects. It is successful in managing patients who cannot tolerate, or are not helped by, standard suppressive allergy therapy, and those in whom specific drug therapy is relatively contraindicated (e.g. steroid therapy in a patient with osteoporosis).
We offer antigen vaccines for over 500 different kinds of food and other allergens. Breakspear Medical has the only Manufacturer’s ‘Specials’ License laboratory in the United Kingdom producing these custom-made, unpreserved antigens.
Glossary of terms
- the reaction between the allergen and the antibodies.
- substances that cause the body to react.
- a protein manufactured by the white blood cells to neutralise allergens.
- a protein, which is usually foreign to the body, that stimulates an immune response resulting in production of an antibody.
It is generally believed that an antigen is a substance that can cause an immune response, resulting in production of an antibody, which neutralises the antigen in the body. The antigens are usually foreign proteins not found naturally in the body. The first step in using low-dose immunotherapy (also known as the provocation/neutralisation technique) is to challenge the body.
This is done by intradermal skin tests where a small concentration of antigen vaccine is injected just under the first few layers of skin. As the body reacts to the initial concentration of antigen vaccine, a bump or “wheal” will appear at the injection site. After a few minutes, the wheal will be either remain active or will dissipate. If the wheal and symptoms are still active after 10 minutes, a sequentially lower concentration of antigen vaccine will then be injected at an adjacent site and, after another waiting period, the new wheal will be evaluated for reaction. This process is repeated with the sequentially lower concentrations of antigen vaccine until a satisfactory wheal is obtained. This neutralising concentration of antigen vaccine is termed the “end-point”.
The second step of the technique is maintenance by continuing to neutralise the allergic reactions by repetitive injection of antigen vaccines. That means that patients must inject the antigen vaccine at least once per day, sometimes more frequently, to help maintain the balance of antibodies produced. By stimulating the production of antibodies using the antigen vaccines, when the allergen is next encountered, the body is already prepared to deal with it and this often stops any symptoms provoked by the substance.
Periodically the end-point numbers have to be adjusted, depending on circumstances, conditions and undetermined factors. When allergy symptoms return, it is time to redo the first step and re-test the antigen vaccines, determine the new end-points and regain the harmonising balance.
Antigen vaccines may be taken by daily injections or by drops under the tongue 2 to 3 times per day. The antigen vaccines used for treatment must first be individually tested by injection into the skin (intradermal testing) or by using drops under the tongue (sublingual testing).
A ‘neutralising cocktail’ is a mixture of several neutralising doses (end-points) together in a solution. It may contain end-points for up to twenty-five substances. These antigen vaccines should be kept frozen (in the ice-box or deep-freeze) and last for three months.
Note: It is important that new patients are aware that Breakspear Medical’s allergy and sensitivity treatment programme is not a one visit programme; patients often require regular testing (as often as once every 3 months) and self-administered treatment will be on-going.
How to re-order
Patients wishing to reorder their low-dose immunotherapy vaccines are required to have had a consultation within the last 12 months.
Important policy: In order to ensure that every order is fulfilled efficiently and accurately, all patients’ low-dose immunotherapy vaccine reorders must be submitted on an antigen vaccine order form. The Antigen Laboratory cannot accept orders by phone.
If you are a current NHS-funded patient of Breakspear Medical and wish to re-order antigen vaccines:
To re-order antigen vaccines through the NHS:
Please allow 14 days from the receipt of order.
- Complete the antigen vaccine order form.
- Take the vaccine order form to your NHS GP for him/her to complete a prescription. Ask the GP if he or she would be kind enough to limit the number of antigens on any one prescription to 30. Therefore if you have 90 vaccines, you will require 3 prescriptions.
- Take your vaccine order form and the prescription(s) to your pharmacy/chemist.
- The pharmacist must sign and stamp (page 1) of the vaccine order form and send it to our antigen vaccine department.
- The antigen vaccine department will process the order and send the vaccines to your pharmacy/chemist or directly to you if agreed by the chemist.
If you are a current patient of Breakspear Medical or a consulting physician and wish to re-order antigen vaccines:
How to order your antigen vaccines privately:
Please allow 14 days from the receipt of order.
- Fill in the antigen vaccine order form and either email, fax or post it to us marked for the attention of the “Antigen Vaccine Laboratory”. Orders cannot be accepted by telephone because of the errors that can occur.
- The cost of each antigen is £3.95 + VAT. There is also an additional charge of £5.75 + VAT per completed cocktail. Therefore, a cocktail of 25 antigens will cost £98.75 + £5.75 + VAT. **
- Multiple Allergy Vaccines (MAV) cost £1.30 + VAT per dose. **
For more information, please contact the Antigen Laboratory directly +44 (0) 1442 261 333 ext. 228.
* You must have Adobe Reader installed to use this form, which can be downloaded free from Adobe.)
** Breakspear Medical Group reserves the right to alter prices without notice – 2015.
What is an “antigen vaccine”?
Antigen vaccines are used in both the testing and treating of allergy/sensitivity in low-dose immunotherapy (LDI). An antigen vaccine is a preparation used to stimulate production of antibodies in an immune response.
Where do I go for allergy/sensitivity testing?
When you arrive for allergy/sensitivity testing, please check in at Reception and they will direct you through to the Clinical Department.
The Clinical Department is divided into 2 wards, which are named after members of staff who dedicated many years of service to our patients and to Breakspear Medical.
The Margaret King Ward is where most of the allergy/sensitivity testing takes place and has comfortable chairs for patients. On the first day, you will be given a New Patient Pack containing useful information and necessary forms which will be fully explained by your testing nurse.
The Joyce Keller Ward is nearest the Nursing Office and this is where most of the intravenous infusions take place in either hospital beds or comfortable chairs.
The wards are open plan so that you can be observed at all times throughout the duration of your testing. There are a few beds and single rooms which are allocated on a daily basis to patients as clinically indicated and there is one large dedicated room suitable for our younger patients. You may request a bed or room when making your appointment but it cannot be guaranteed and will not be confirmed.
How do I prepare for allergy/sensitivity testing?
After you book your allergy/sensitivity testing and before you arrive, there are 4 things that are very important to know.
Firstly, you must take our scent-free policy very seriously, as you may be refused admission to the clinic if there is scent on you or your companion. It may affect your test results as well as other patients’.
Secondly, switch off your mobile phone at Reception to maintain a therapeutic environment. Some patients experience symptoms if exposed to Wi-Fi and this can affect their testing and treatment. It may be possible for you to read and view material on your device on ‘Airplane mode’. You may wish to bring a book; reading material, such as magazines with perfume samples, are not permitted on the ward.
Thirdly, do not take anti-histamine medication for 3 days prior to testing because this will affect your results. You will not be able to test until this medication has cleared.
Lastly, as testing is performed on the upper arms, please wear a sleeveless top to allow access. Short sleeves may cause discomfort where the fabric meets the newly tested skin or where the fabric is rolled/folded into your shoulder/arm pit.
Do I need to fast before allergy/sensitivity testing?
No, there is no need to fast. However, it is a good idea to make a note of what you have eaten as your testing nurse will ask you.
Eating and drinking (anything but water) is not permitted while testing. It is a good idea to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and headaches.
You may wish to bring your own lunch or you can order lunch in advance (at an additional charge) from the on-site kitchen.
How will I know how many sessions to book for allergy/sensitivity testing?
The number of days will have been recommended following your consultation and discussed with your Patient Liaison Officer. You must ensure that all your sessions are booked at Reception.
The daily session times for testing are as follows:
Morning session 09.00 – 12.00 hrs
Lunch break 12.00 – 13.00 hrs
Afternoon session 13.00 – 16.00 hrs
If you do not require all of your booked sessions, you must cancel the remaining sessions with Reception either in person or by telephone as soon as possible. (These can then be offered to patients on a ‘cancellation list’.)
A cancellation charge will be applied for missed appointments and for those cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.
Do I need to stop taking my antihistamine before allergy testing?
Yes. It is important that you have not taken antihistamines for 3 days prior to testing as this will affect your allergy/sensitivity test results.
If you are taking any other drugs or medicines, please bring them with you and, upon your arrival, show them to the nurse in charge.
Who will be conducting the allergy/sensitivity testing?
One of our qualified nurses will be conducting the allergy/sensitivity testing.
As well as all receiving training in LDI testing, all members of Breakspear Medical’s medical team are trained as first responders in the unlikely event of a medical emergency. The clinic has all required emergency equipment and all clinical team members receive annual refresher training for essential emergency procedures including re-certification in CPR and use of the clinic’s Automatic External Defibrillator. It is also Breakspear Medical’s strict policy not to conduct any clinical procedures without the supervision of an appropriate physician.
How do I know which allergy/sensitivity to test?
Every patient has their own individual plan, recommended to them by their doctor. In the majority of patients with allergies/sensitivities, it is important to start with histamine and common foods, which are foods you eat more than 3 times per week.
A list of over 500 items which we have readily available for testing will be provided for you to choose from. Your doctor may recommend specific items and our testing nurses are all very familiar with common allergens. We are also able to offer custom made items for an additional charge.
There are also seasonal programmes, with specific recommendations.
It is also strongly advised that you have a consultation with a Nutritional Therapist to guide your testing. A Nutritional Therapist will take into account your pathology results and recommendations made by your doctor and can help you make a plan for their recommended supplement regime.