Cedar fever sufferers needed for Austin drug study




Posted on December 8, 2009 at 5:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 9 at 3:46 PM

Central Texas has been called one of the allergy capitals of the world -- hundreds of thousands spend part of the year with itchy eyes, sniffling and sneezing thanks to cedar, ragweed and mold.

Now, as cedar season prepares to start, one Austin clinical research company is looking for hundreds of volunteers to test what they say are promising new allergy medications.

Patients at the Austin Allergy and Asthma center go there searching for relief from allergy symptoms.  But Paul Mannie, 32, is taking his search one step further -- he's signed up for a drug study on a promising new allergy medication.

"I get watery eyes, a stopped up nose," Mannie said.  "Maybe this will help something I've been having problems with for years."

Dr. Bill Howland runs Sirius Clinical Research,which helps pharmaceutical companies find volunteers to try new medications.

One study during last year's cedar season helped reformulate an older drug -- now Astepro is being prescribed to millions.

"I've been doing research for 15 years and over the years I think the medicines have gotten a lot better," Dr. Howland said.

This cedar season, hundreds of people are needed to test two new drugs that are on the cutting edge of allergy relief.

Study participants will be given a skin test to see exactly what they're allergic to,then there's blood tests and weekly visits to see how they respond -- and if there are any side effects.

So it's not just a chance for volunteers to possibly be cedar-symptom free -- the tests will also help shape the future of allergy medications.

And Dr. Howland says these tests are starting at just the right time.

"I always say cedar season's gonna be bad, but this year I think it's gonna be horrible," he said.

All those who take part in the drug tests will be paid.  Call 345-8900 for more information or go to this web site.

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