London: Scientists have identified how allergic reactions to cats are triggered, and as a result have raised hopes of developing a preventive medicine.
Dr Clare Bryant of the University of Cambridge, led researchers studied proteins that were found in cat skin particles, also known as cat dander - the most common cause of cat allergy.
The team found that a specific pathway in the body was activated by the cat allergen, once it came in the presence of a common bacterial toxin.
This phenomenon triggered a large immune response in allergy sufferers, causing symptoms like coughing, wheezing, sneezing and a runny nose.
Dr Bryant told BBC News that by understanding the underlying the mechanism, drugs that have been designed and are in clinical trials for other conditions could be used in a different way to treat cat allergy and to prevent cat allergy.
An allergic reaction takes place when the body`s immune system overreacts to a perceived danger and instead of its response to a harmful virus or bacteria, it misidentifies allergens, like cat dander, and mounts an immune response.
The research has been published in Journal of Immunology.