Do you love the idea of owning a cat but struggle with the idea of adopting a cute little furball due to your allergic reaction? You may soon be in luck!
HypoPet AG, a Swiss-based company, announced, via media release, that they are working on a vaccine designed to target the “major” feline allergen, the Fel d 1 protein. The development of this vaccine could benefit millions of potential cat owners since 10 percent of the West is allergic to cats, and 25 percent of households have cats. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.
An exciting aspect of this potential new vaccine is that it is administered to the cat, not the owner with the allergy. The vaccine will minimize the secretions of the Fed d 1 protein, thus reducing the owner’s risk of developing several illnesses, such as asthma, enabling cats to remain in their households rather than having to be sent to shelters.
The company states that “HypoPet’s lead project, HypoCat™, is a vaccine to lower the allergenicity experienced by humans towards cats. Fel d 1, a cat protein secreted in saliva and tears and found on the pelt, is the principle allergen to which cat allergy sufferers react.” In addition, “more than 85% of cat allergic patients have potent allergy-inducing IgE antibodies against this protein. It is known that decreasing exposure of allergic humans to Fel d 1 has a significant benefit on symptoms and health. HypoPet’s innovative approach is to intervene at the source, i.e., lower allergenic Fel d 1 on the cat itself.”
According to the company’s study, it’s traumatic to separate owners from their beloved pets; and that a leading cause of cat abandonment is allergies suffered by owners, their friends, and relatives. A sad statistic that they’re hoping to change is that approximately 1.4 million cats, out of the 3.4 million cats annually abandoned to cat shelters in the United States, are euthanized.
The vaccine was tested on 54 cats in four tests and produced promising results. According to the company’s media release, the vaccine was “well-tolerated without any overt toxicity.” Dr. Gary Jennings, the CEO of HypoPet AG, stated that “we are very pleased to publish this data which shows our HypoCat vaccine is able to produce high levels of antibodies in cats and that these antibodies can bind and neutralize the Fel d 1 allergen produced by the animals. This work was a key step in the milestone-driven [the] development of HypoCat, the lead project in our product pipeline.” Jennings added, “We are pressing ahead with registration studies and discussions with European and U.S regulators with the hope of bringing this much-needed product to the market.”
So looking ahead there is hope that the preclinical testing will lead to this breakthrough vaccine that will enable cats to remain in their “furever” homes. It will benefit not only cats but also the cat owners that love them, now and for generations to come.