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Love Cats, Hate Your Allergies? A New Vaccine May Be the Perfect Fix

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HypoCat is a vaccine currently being developed that would be administered to cats, keeping them from producing a common allergen that affects many people. Getty Images
  • A Switzerland-based company revealed it’s developing a new vaccine for cat allergies that’s administered directly to the animal instead of a person.
  • While not yet available, the vaccine targets Fel d 1, a common feline allergen (dander that collects in the animal’s fur) that affects close to 10 percent of the Western human population.
  • A recent study on 54 cats showed “no overt toxic effect” and appears to be safe for use.

A Swiss-based company might have come up with an inventive new solution for those who like cats but sadly have allergies to their would-be feline friends.

What is it? A new cat allergy vaccine that’s administered to pets themselves, not people.

Earlier this year, HypoPet AG announced in a press release that it was developing a vaccine that targets Fel d 1, a common feline allergen that affects close to 10 percent of the Western human population.

The results of the company’s vaccine tests were recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, revealing what looks to be an effective test vaccine that immunizes cats from their own allergen.

“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,” Gary Jennings, PhD, the company’s CEO, said in the release.

“This work was a key step in the milestone driven development of HypoCat™, the lead project in our product pipeline,” he added.

This could be a purrfect solution for those who are living with a cat allergy.

In fact, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports as many as 3 in 10 people in the United States have allergic reactions to cats and dogs.

Also, cat allergies are about twice as common as those to canine companions.

The foundation states that people with pet allergies have overly sensitive immune systems, responding negatively to proteins that exist in a dog or cat’s saliva, dander, or urine.

One popular misconception is that if you’re allergic, it’s to Fido or Fluffy’s hair itself. Rather, it’s to the allergens in dander that collect to the animal’s fur.

This new vaccine has yet to hit the market, but the study done on 54 cats in total showed “no overt toxic effect.”

Paul Bloom, DVM, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology and a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Canine and Feline Specialty, told Healthline that if properly made, this kind of vaccine shouldn’t be a problem.

That being said, he adds that a cat is no different than a person who could have a rare reaction to a specific type of injection.

“Cats, like any person or animal, can have an allergic reaction,” he said. “In addition, they can form immune complexes — or molecules that join together — that can cause autoimmune disease or even kidney disease. Also, cats can get a type of cancer from different types of injections.”

Beyond having a direct positive impact on the health of a cat and its human, a new allergy vaccine could help address a major problem that afflicts felines in the United States.

The ASPCA reports about 3.2 million cats are left in animal shelters each year in this country. About 860,000 of those cats are euthanized. A new method for warding off allergies could potentially combat these bleak statistics.

Does Bloom see a future where more similar allergy vaccines administered to animals are developed?

“Certainly there are people allergic to dogs and horses, but not sure how large the market is for those products,” he said.

A Switzerland-based company, HypoPet AG, revealed it’s developing a new vaccine for cat allergies that’s administered directly to the animal instead of a person.

While not yet available, the vaccine could have massive appeal. Three in 10 people in the United States have dog or cat allergies. Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.

Veterinarian Paul Bloom, DVM, says that as long as prepared properly, this kind of vaccine should be safe for felines.


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