Though not quite at the same level as shellfish and peanuts, cats trigger an allergic reaction in many people, making it impossible to keep them around as pets. That’s unfortunate, particularly in people who develop their allergy while already living with a cat, an issue that doesn’t come with an easy solution. There’s some hope, however, and it may come in the form of a vaccine administered to the animals, not humans.
A study detailing the potential vaccine was published in April, though it only recently came to the public’s attention. In their paper, researchers explain that the majority of human allergy to cats is due to an allergen called Fel d 1. There aren’t, at this point in time, any approved ways to treat this particular allergy.
That may change in the future, however, thanks to work being done by a Switzerland-based company called Hypocat. Scientists have discovered that it may be possible to target this allergy by inoculating cats against their own allergen, preventing the allergy from manifesting in humans altogether. Put simply: the cat gets the shot, not the human.
The newly developed vaccine contains a particle described as ‘virus-like’ derived from the cucumber mosaic virus containing the universal T-cell epitope tt830-843 (CuMVTT), which was itself derived from the tetanus toxin, as well as recombinant Fel d 1 allergen.
After injecting cats with this vaccine, the researchers found that the treatment didn’t result in any ‘overt toxic effect’ and it was generally well tolerated. In all of these cases, the cats experienced a specific antibody response described as ‘strong and sustained’ that reduced the allergen level.
As with many potential treatments in development, this particular vaccine is not currently available on the market and additional research is necessary. However, the study indicates that if this product were ever brought to market, reducing cat allergies may be as simple as vaccinating a cat, opening the door for a greater number of adoptions than currently take place.