People unfairly kept away from a cat company due to allergies are rejoicing this week after news emerged of a potential vaccine that makes cats less able to cause allergies. But while this study is promising, the finished product will not be available any time soon. This April, Hypocat publishes the results of a vaccine study. And this is the news that, for reasons lost by the void, the Internet has started to buzz again.
The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, describes a very smart strategy for dealing with cat allergies.  The vaccine does not attempt to desensitize the immune system of humans allergic to cats, as they do to other existing immunotherapies such as allergy shots. Rather, it tries to train cats' immune systems to pass on a specific protein or allergen they naturally produce, called Fel d 1
About 90 percent of people with feline allergies produce antibodies against Fel d 1. So, if successful, the vaccine will turn cats into hypoallergenic, so ing reduce the amount of Fel d 1, which is made and finally rush to the noses and mouths us.
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The study looks at what the vaccine looks like. In various experiments, more than 50 young cats were dosed with the shot vaccine in their hind legs. In the last cat experiment, three doses were given for nine weeks; some cats also received a booster shot six months later.
All the cats they report developed a sustained immune response to the allergen and the booster helped keep the antibody levels high. Antibodies taken from cats' blood also appear to neutralize Fel d1 in the laboratory, while cats themselves produce less Fel d1 in their saliva and tears. And when these cat samples were mixed with blood taken from real patients with cats allergy, they caused a less allergic reaction.
Most importantly for animal lovers, the vaccine does not appear to cause serious or long-term side effects in cats. One likely reason for this is that, as far as we know, Fel d 1 has no crucial function in cats. Some cats are naturally very low in Fel d 1 with no apparent health issues. The vaccine also does not completely eliminate the protein.
This is exciting news, but it is also very early, "preclinical" data. The company said it has been in discussions with both the US and European drug approval agencies and that it has begun laying down the basics for mass production and clinical trials involving humans. But even if these trials started today and the vaccine passes them with flying colors, you will still have to wait years before the market can hit. A similar vaccine for dogs under development by a company called Hypodog is even further back in development.
So by all means go ahead and make fun of owning a pet someday that won't turn you into a deadly mess. Just know that you will have to be patient for a while.