Allergic to Cats? New Therapies are on the Horizon
As many as one in seven people are allergic to cats, yet many of these people own cats and “manage” their allergies with medications, HEPA filters and other methods because they love their felines and do not want to give them up despite suffering allergy symptoms.
People with cat allergies are actually reacting to a specific protein or antigen in the cat’s saliva and skin glands known as Fel d1, not to cat hair itself. Two research companies are studying ways to reduce this protein in the cat, thereby reducing the allergic reaction experienced by cat owners when they have contact with cats. Both methods show promising results.
First, a Swiss company is looking at a vaccine called HypoCat that is administered not to the human allergy sufferer but to the cat to bind and reduce the Fel d1 protein. Results of the study were encouraging—lower levels of Fel d1 protein were found in cats who had received the vaccine and cat owners who were allergic to cats subjectively appeared to have fewer allergic symptoms when exposed to vaccinated vs. unvaccinated cats. HypoCat may be available in Europe and the United States as early as 2022.
The second study is being conducted by Purina. A diet is being developed that transfers anti-Fel d1 antibodies into egg yolks. When the egg product is fed to cats, the antibodies target and reduce the Fel d1 proteins in the cat’s saliva. Purina has seen a 30% reduction in Fel d1 protein levels in almost 90% of the cats fed the diet; however, they have not yet tested whether or not humans have a lower allergic response when exposed to the cats eating the diet. More research is in the works and there is no target date for release of this special diet as of now.
While these ideas seem a bit far-fetched, the research seems to indicate that these novel methods may be a safe an effective way to reduce symptoms in allergy sufferers who own or work with cats without needing to pop a bunch of antihistamines or receive allergy desensitization injections themselves.
This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.