London: Coming soon, A jab to cure cat allergies, say scientists who claim to be developing the new vaccine which will protect against the itching, sneezing and
watering eyes that felines cause in up to one in 10 people.
Early trials suggest the product is safe, effective and lasts longer than current treatments, which can also have serious side-effects.
If further tests are successful, the scientists behind the vaccine hope they will be able to develop similar products for the millions who suffer hay fever and other allergies,
`The Daily Telegraph` reported.
"The results of our initial safety and tolerability study indicate that the vaccine is safe and well-tolerated.
"Furthermore, we have defined the dose of vaccine displaying the greatest efficacy in a surrogate clinical outcome marker, which can be used in future clinical studies," they wrote in the `Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology`.
The scientists, led by Prof Mark Larch at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, say that cat allergy is one of the most common allergies and is "strongly associated with
asthma", with children suffering particularly badly.
It is caused by cats releasing allergenic proteins from their glands when they clean themselves, which end up floating in the air on their fur and being inhaled by humans.
The new vaccine works by identifying key areas of the protein that cause allergic reactions rather than the whole protein, as existing vaccines do.
The scientists deconstructed the molecule that cats secrete on their fur which causes most problems in sufferers, and identified the parts that switch on cells known as T-cells in sufferers, triggering the allergic response.
They then made synthetic versions of the key regions of the protein, short strings of amino acids known as peptides, in order to make the vaccine. When the parts of the
allergen protein are injected into skin they turn off T-cells.
Over time a tolerance to the allergen is also built up.
In the clinical trial, 88 patients were injected with the vaccine or a placebo and the researchers found that the product led to a 40 per cent reduction in effects on their skin that develop several hours after contact with a cat.