Allergies can often stand in the way of being a pet lover, with three in 10 people estimated to have allergic reactions to cats and dogs. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, but now a team of scientists in Switzerland might have found a solution.
The Swiss-based company HypoPet announced it is working on a vaccine that could target a “major” feline allergen – Fel d 1 – to which nearly 10 percent of the Western population is allergic, according to results from a study on the vaccine.
“Fel d 1, a cat protein secreted into saliva and tears and found on the pelt, is the principal allergen to which cat allergy sufferers react. It is known that decreasing exposure of allergic humans to Fel d 1 has a significant benefit on symptoms and health,” the company said.
Among these benefits are reducing the risk of childhood asthma for kids, as well as a reduction in the number of cats abandoned every year. Basically, it’s a win-win for both cats and their owners.
The vaccine is called HypoCat and, unlike other immunotherapies, works by “immunizing cats against their own major allergen, Fel d 1,” the researchers said. In other words, the cat would be administered the vaccine instead of their allergic owner.
According to the research, the vaccine was “well-tolerated without any overt toxicity”. Researchers collected the data from four separate studies that involved a total of 54 cats.
Hypo Pet examined the test subjects for any adverse side effects and did not observe any. The vaccine is promising because scientists haven't identified any reason for cats to produce the protein, leading them to believe it's an evolutionary leftover.
It will likely be years before Hypo Pet is available on the market, though. The study is the first step in a long process that will include human trials and approval from both European and U.S. drug agencies. The company has begun the ramp-up to a larger production, but no timeline has been set.
“We are pressing ahead with registration studies and discussions with European and U.S regulators with the hope of bringing this much-needed product to the market,” Jennings added.