Allergic to Cats? Scientists Are Working on a Vaccine to Alleviate Your Symptoms
If find yourself getting sneezy and wheezy every time you play with a furry feline, then you'll be pleased to know that relief is on the horizon—and your own kitten could be in your future.
Allergies have long prevented cat lovers from playing with their feline friends; currently, those who love playful kittens and purring cat can only reach for over-the-counter medicine and hope for the best. That may soon change, as a team of scientists in Zurich are currently developing a vaccine to help those with cat allergies—and it doesn't even require you to get a shot or pick up a new prescription.
In a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers illustrate how a feline vaccination can block the production of a certain protein that causes those with cat allergies to have terrible reactions. According to Smithsonian magazine, the protein in question is "Fel d 1" and can be found in the cat's skin, urine, and saliva, which is then transferred onto fur after a cat licks itself in the hopes of keeping its fur clean. The vaccine—currently known as the Hypocat—contains antibodies that leads a cat's immune system to naturally stop the production of the allergy-causing protein.
According to a press release from the study's authors, the new vaccine isn't harmful towards cats—the research includes data from studies consisting of 54 different cats—and shows promising results when tested with live human subjects. "We are very pleased to publish this data which shows our HypoCat™ vaccine is able to produce high levels of antibodies in cats, and that these antibodies can bind and neutralize the Fel d 1 allergen produced by the animals," said Dr. Gary Jennings, the CEO of HypoPet AG, in the press release. The group behind the new vaccine says they're conducting further research before releasing their vaccine on the open market, and that it should be available to those suffering from allergies and cat lovers alike in just a few years.
The new vaccine is just the latest in the development of cures for those who suffer from pet allergies; more research published in the journal Immunity, Inflammation, and Disease found cats that were fed similar antibodies were also able to curtail the amount of allergy-causing protein in just a few months. Allergic humans who were then exposed to these cats endured fewer allergy symptoms overall, enjoying clear airways and non-itchy eyes, as compared to cats on a regular diet. Whether it's through a shot or a new kind of diet, cats are well on their way towards being even more friendly for feline lovers everywhere.