Just in time for National Black Cat Appreciation Day, scientists in Switzerland say they've created a vaccine that keeps cats from making people allergic to them.
Instead of giving shots to the humans in the household, however, this vaccine is for the feline.
According to the team at HypoPet — which was founded in 2013 by the University of Zürich Switzerland and funded by grants from the Swiss government — its HypoCat vaccine targets “the major feline allergen (i.e. Fel d 1) to which humans are allergic” and induces antibodies in the cats. The antibodies neutralize the allergen.
Basically, it eliminates in cats what makes people allergic to them.
In its paper published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the scientists say they conducted four tests involving 54 cats and the vaccine was well tolerated by the felines.
"Both human subjects and animals could profit from this treatment because allergic cat owners would reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as asthma, and become more tolerant of their cats, which therefore could stay in the households and not need to be relinquished to animal shelters," the researchers said.
According to the team's media release, 10% of the general human population has cat allergies. Because there is only a treatment, but no cure, many cats owners are forced to part with their feline companions. Of the 3.4 million cats abandoned annually to shelters, about 1.4 million are euthanized, HypoPet's media release states.
"HypoPet's novel approach to this shared problem of pets and their owners is to intervene at the source by lowering the allergenicity of the pet itself," it says.
This study is only the first step in bringing the vaccine to market, however. Larger tests and human trials still need to be conducted.
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