Cat Allergy Vaccine Created

McMaster University researchers have developed a vaccine which successfully treats people with an allergy to cats. Traditionally, frequent allergy shots have been considered the most effective way to bring relief — other than getting rid of the family pet — for the 8 to 10% of the population allergic to cats.

Both options, may now be avoided thanks to the work of immunologist Mark Larché, professor at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Allergy & Immune Tolerance.

Building on research he’s conducted for the past 10 years in Canada and Britain, Larché and his research team have developed a vaccine which is effective and safe with almost no side effects. The research is published in a the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, a leading journal in the allergy field.

The researchers took one protein (molecule) that cats secrete on their fur which causes the majority of allergic problems. Using blood samples from 100 patient volunteers allergic to cats, they deconstructed the molecule and identified short regions within the protein which activate T-cells (helper cells that fight infection) in the immune system.

Known as “peptide immunotherapy,” a low dose of the vaccine is given into the skin. Initially, four to eight doses a year may be required, but the side effects of the traditional allergy shots do not arise, Larché said. The optimal dose will be determined in phase three clinical trials which are getting underway with a much larger group of cat allergy sufferers.

The vaccine will not be available until the phase 3 trial is completed successfully.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Your Vet About Cat MedicationsHow to Give Your Cat a Pill

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One Response to Cat Allergy Vaccine Created

  1. Nan Titcomb says:

    Shots might seem like an unusual way to treat allergies, but they’re effective at decreasing sensitivity to triggers. The substances in the shots are chosen according to the allergens identified from a person’s medical history and by the allergist during the initial testing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the standards used in preparing the materials for allergy shots given in the United States.

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