Hey, cats. You know how about 10% of the humans in the U.S. start coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and getting rashes and stuffy noses around you? Well, it’s not them. It’s you. They are allergic to you.
This problem has motivated HypoPet AG, a Swiss-based company, to develop the HypoCat vaccine for that. But the vaccine isn’t for them. It’s for you.
Most often, the problem isn’t exactly you. It’s actually Fel d 1. No, Fel d 1 is not something on World of Warcraft. That would be a Fel Mint Green paint vial. And it is not a musical act. That would be Adele or Bell Biv DeVoe. Fel d 1 is a protein in your saliva and skin secretions that frequently generates the allergic reaction seen in humans.
What makes matters worse is that you have this problem licked. Maybe it’s the lack of hair gel and a brush, but you seem to lick yourself quite often. This licking then spreads Fel d 1 all over your fur. Then, when you shed your fur, you effectively spread this protein everywhere you go. That’s what can make it so difficult for some humans to be around you.
I know, I know, you may not want humans around you. After all, they may dress you up like a sailor or watch you while you pee. But many humans do like being around you, even if you may be plotting their demise, as I have detailed previously for Forbes.
That’s why humans are trying to develop a vaccine for cat allergies. Did you read that publication in the recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology? No, not the one about the long-term safety and pharmacodynamics of mepolizumab in children with severe asthma with an eosinophilic phenotype. I know how much you cats like pharmacodynamics. Rather, I’m referring to the publication about a set of studies that included over fifty of your comrades (or catrades), mice, human blood, and the HypoCat vaccine.
In the studies, your catrades received three doses of HypoCat over nine weeks with some getting a booster shot six months later. The vaccinations involved injections into your catrades’ hind legs. The injections may have involved some meowches but otherwise were fairly well-tolerated. No strange side effects. No Cat Daddy Dances.
After delivering the vaccinations, the researchers subsequently detected increased levels of antibodies to Fel d 1 in your catrades’ blood. They (the researchers and not the cats) also found that these antibodies seemed to neutralize the activity of Fel d 1 when they were mixed together in the laboratory. Moreover, your catrades who got the vaccine tended to have lower levels of Fel d 1 in their saliva and tears. Finally, when samples from your catrades who got the vaccine were mixed with blood from humans with cat allergies, there was less allergy-related chemical reactions than usual.
In a statement, Dr. Gary Jennings, CEO of HypoPet AG, said, “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.” He 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.”
Of note, Jennings, to my knowledge, is a human and not a cat.
Of course, this latest set of studies don’t completely prove that humans won’t continue to sneeze, cough, wheeze, and develop rashes around you if you get vaccinated. We’ll have to see what happens when humans with documented cat allergies are exposed to your catrades who have gotten the vaccine. But these findings are promising.
If you are worried about what neutralizing your Fel d 1 protein may do to you, it isn’t clear what purposes Fel d 1 may serve you. The hope is that Fel d 1 is like bad body odor or the Macarena. It exists. It bothers a number of humans. But getting rid of it doesn’t bother you. Unless, of course, you feel that cat allergies are the one thing preventing humans from dressing you up as a sailor.