Given its beginnings at the turn of the century, the theory underlying allergen desensitization was closely associated with that of vaccination. Allergens, common environmental antigens that provoke allergic responses in some individuals, were seen as conceptually similar to bacterial toxins. It was thought that individuals with undesirable (hypersensitivity) responses to such substances would develop a protective immune response upon exposure to increased doses of allergen, resulting in a qualitative shift from immediate hypersensitivity to clinical tolerance. Beginning in 1909-11, Noon and others established immunization programs for 'de-sensitization' that have continued largely unchanged to the present.

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