Anyone with an allergy to cats knows the discomfort that comes with spending time near a feline. Coughing, wheezing, and itchy red eyes are just some of the symptoms of this allergy, which is one of the most common pet allergies. The good news is that researchers have successfully developed a vaccine that will allow allergy sufferers to cuddle up to their favorite cat.
The vaccine, which has been in the works for years, is actually given to cats rather than humans. Cat allergies aren't actually caused by fur, but rather a protein produced in cat saliva and sebaceous glands. The vaccine works by mixing cucumber mosaic virus and a molecule of this protein, which is called Fel d 1. This provokes an immune response and, afterward, studies show that the cats' immune system automatically destroys the molecules.
This reduces the amount of Fel d 1 in the treated cats, making them less allergenic to humans. It appears to be a win all around, as the function of Fel d 1 in cats is unknown, yet 10% of the Western population is allergic to the protein. As cat allergies are a leading cause of abandonment, this is also great news for animal shelters who find themselves overrun with cats.
So far, the vaccine has been tested on 54 different cats over four studies. Not only were the trials successful in that the vaccine provoked lower levels of Fel d 1, but the cats also showed no adverse symptoms in reaction to the treatment. The full results of the trials have been published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The research was conducted by the Zurich-based research team of Hypo Pet AG, which focuses on combating pet allergies.
In light of the successful trials, Hypo Pet is pressing forward in collaborating with European and U.S. authorities to register their studies and to begin discussing how they can bring the cat allergy vaccine to market.
h/t: [IFL Science!]