People who are unfairly kept away from cat companionship due to an allergy rejoice this week, after news emerged of a potential vaccine that makes cats less capable of causing allergies. But while this research is promising, a finished product will not be available soon.
The vaccine in question is developed by Swiss-based Hypocat and is the company's leading experimental and naming drug. In April, Hypocat published results from a study on the vaccine. And it is this news that the internet, for reasons that have been lost to the void, has begun to be re-leased.
The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, describes a very smart strategy for managing cat allergies. [1
About 90 percent of people with a cat allergy produce antibodies to Error d 1. So if successful, the vaccine would basically turn cats who are allergy-friendly by greatly reducing the amount of Error d 1 they do and eventually germinate in our noses and mouths.
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In the study, the vaccine seemed to do. During various experiments, more than 50 young cats were dosed with the vaccine, which was administered via a shot on the hind legs. In the latest experiment, cats received three doses over nine weeks; some cats also received a booster shot six months later.
All cats, they reported, developed a lasting immune response to the allergen, and the booster shot helped keep antibody levels high. Antibodies taken from the cat's blood also appeared to neutralize Error d 1 in the lab, while the cats themselves produced less Error d 1 in their saliva and tears. And when these cat samples were mixed with blood taken from real human patients with cat allergies, they caused less of an allergic reaction.
Most importantly for animal lovers, the vaccine did not appear to cause serious or long-term side effects in cats. One likely reason for this is that Error d 1 has no crucial function in cats, as far as we know. Some cats are already naturally very low in Error d 1, with no apparent health problems. Nor does the vaccine completely eliminate the protein.
This is exciting news, but it is also very early, "preclinical" data. The company has said it has been in discussions with both US and European drug authorities and that it has begun to lay the groundwork for mass production and clinical trials with humans. But even though these trials began today and the vaccine passed them with flying colors, you still have to wait for years before it can hit the market. A similar vaccine for dogs developed by the company, called Hypodog, is even further back in the pipeline.
So by all means, go ahead and dazzle that one day owning a pet will not turn you into a messy mess. Just know that you have to have patience for a while longer.