Cat Allergy Vaccine Created

Posted on April 2, 2011  Comments (5)

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.

Using the amino acid code for the whole protein, researchers made synthetic versions of these regions. For the cat allergy vaccine, they found seven peptides (strings of amino acids). “And those synthetic peptides are what we mix together to make the vaccine,” said Larché. “We picked the peptides that would work in as much of the population as possible.”

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 development of a vaccine to treat people allergic to cats is the first in a line of vaccines developed with Adiga Life Sciences, a company established at McMaster in 2008. It is a joint venture between McMaster University Circassia Ltd., a UK-based biotech company.

Adiga and McMaster are now collaborating on research into the use of peptide immunotherapy for house dust mite, ragweed, grass, birch tree and moulds

Related: MIT Engineers Design New Type of Nanoparticle for Vacines10 Questions to Ask Your Vet About Cat MedicationsVaccine For Strep Infections

5 Responses to “Cat Allergy Vaccine Created”

  1. Will
    April 3rd, 2011 @ 12:25 am

    This is really something. I have been terribly allergic to SOME cats for as long as I can remember. It is only probably 20% of all cats. The rest I am fine around. We have 3 cats ourselves and I am not allergic them. Odd isn’t it? I have always heard that the allergen is something in the saliva of some cats. Not all of them have it. I am not sure if that is correct, but it may explain what is going on with me at least.

  2. Celeste
    April 6th, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

    I have long suffered from skin allergy, I love cats are my favorite pet, I’ve spent endless consultation times and never found anything I do not know if the cats will like to know, when the vaccine be available?

  3. Lindsey
    April 6th, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

    This sounds too good to be true! I’m not allergic to cats but my fiance is. I do have a cat and she is my baby! I absolutely do not want to give her up but my fiance’s allergies are so bad that he says she can not come with me when we move in together. We were thinking about trying allergy shots for him but this may be a better option. Please tell me where I can get more info on this or where we can start trying this out. I’m desperate and will do anything to keep my cat!

  4. Pamela Yellowe
    April 11th, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    I love cats, and my whole family wants one (husband and three kids). However, I and one of my sons is allergic to cats. I have had allergy shots for seasonal allergies and ginnea pigs, which eventually worked well. My son finished shots for allergies and currently takes allegra. I would not want to open Pandora’s box for either of us, but if your product could allow us to own a cat without allergies, I would be interested in learning more.

  5. karin chouinard
    September 14th, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    This is great news. My 9 year old son has had cats all his life (they are his babies), yesterday we find out he has developed cat allergies. We have 3 cats and are desperate to keep them, my son can’t part with his babies. Sure hope this is an option in the near future.

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