Swiss researchers hope for cat lovers and cat lovers. Zurich University scientists are developing a cat allergy vaccine: it should not be injected with humans but with animals.
For almost 10,000 years, cats have been kept as pets – as a friend, a game or as a mouse catcher. But about ten percent of people are allergic to cats.
Only symptomatic treatment for cat hair allergy
Allergy is manifested very differently – Immunologist Martin Bachmann of the University of Bern knows:
"It can be mild itching and tears in the eyes, but in principle it can also be life-threatening asthma."
How different are the symptoms are the attempts to counteract the allergic reactions: In most cases, people are treated with cortisone or antihistamines. However, it only treats the symptoms, not the disease itself.
Allergen comes from saliva
However, the cause of cat hair allergy is not – as one might say – hair, but an endogenous animal protein called "Fel d 1". It occurs in cats' body fluids, especially saliva, explains Martin Bachmann: When a cat clears his tongue, the allergen comes out of saliva on the hair.
Inoculation in cats prevents the spread of allergens
The University of Zurich and a specially established branch headed by Martin Bachmann have been researching the fight against allergies for years. They do not start with allergic people, but with cats. They try to prevent the emission of these allergens. Namely, by immunizing cats against allergens. The antibodies in the body of the cat bind allergens and therefore the cat no longer transmits them.
Cats are given an active ingredient that is simply injected under the skin. Like the injection of flu, the agent causes the production of antibodies.
The allergen is disguised as a virus
But researchers around Martin Bachmann take the allergen and make it look like a virus. Then the cat responds with a strong immune response, especially with the production of anti-allergen antibodies & # 39; Fel d1 & # 39 ;.
The vaccine has been successfully tested on cats
A research team at the University of Zurich tested the vaccine. The medicine was tolerable and safe. Also keep the vaccine for a while. About 70 animals have already been vaccinated – says Martin Bachmann – with a double effect:
"There are two aspects: first, the allergic symptoms in humans are reduced. We have also been able to show that the owner cares more for the cat when immunized, that there is a greater interaction between the owner and the cat for the cat and the human."
The vaccine does not appear to be harmful to cats
The question remains whether the protein in cats has a function that is no longer fulfilled after vaccination. For now, we don't know exactly what function this allergen has & # 39; Fel d1 & # 39; in the cat, so said immunologist Martin Bachmann.
However, studies have shown that cats have no problems after immunization. In addition, there are cats who naturally have almost no "Fel d1" protein and also have no problems. "
A dog vaccine should also be developed
In less than three years the vaccine should reach the market. Then allergy sufferers could be very close to their loved ones. By the way, a dog vaccine is also planned. Its development, however, is a little more complex.