Scientists Have Created a Cat-Allergy 'Vaccine'

People with cat allergies—rejoice! Swiss researchers have done a promising study on a possible cat allergy vaccine that doesn’t involve any human shots or medicines.

Key takeaways:
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    A recent study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that researchers at HypoPet have made a vaccine that could help people who are allergic to cats.
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    The vaccine, which is called HypoCat, is not for people but for cats. It goes after a certain protein, or allergen called Fel d 1, which cats make.
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    Throughout four different studies, 54 different cats were given the vaccine.
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    Not only would it help cat lovers, but the vaccine can potentially help lower the number of cats in animal shelters.

Cat-lovers with a pesky cat allergy—you may be in luck. Swiss-based researchers at Hypocat are well on their way to delivering a vaccine that gets rid of cat allergies.

Saiba Animal Heath, formerly HypoPet AG, published promising results from a recent study on people with cat allergies.

The study was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and gives a detailed breakdown on how we might eliminate feline sensitivities with a cat allergy vaccine called HypoCat.

The results are actually quite unique.

Unlike most vaccines, the study didn’t try to desensitize the immune systems of people with cat allergies, often called immunotherapies. This is the approach medicines like allergy shots do.

Instead, the researchers created a vaccine for cat allergens that is actually given to cats! Yes, HypoPet came up with a new way to treat human cat allergies caused by Fel d 1, the most common allergen in cats, by immunizing cats against Fel d 1.

This cat allergen is usually found in cats’ saliva and sebaceous glands. However, scientists are still unsure of its bodily function.

Here are a few key points from the HypoPet study:

  • The Fel d 1 molecule and a cucumber mosaic virus were mixed by the research team to stimulate the cats' immune systems.
  • After the cats got the vaccine, their immune systems destroyed the molecules on their own, and the tested cats were less likely to make people sick than regular cats.
  • The vaccination was well tolerated and didn't appear to be harmful.

In four separate studies, HypoPet successfully tested the vaccine on 54 different cats. Overall, the researchers found that reducing the most common cat allergen, Fel d 1, proved to be an effective way to create antibodies in cats against human cat allergies.

The benefit of a cat vaccine is significant and could be useful to both humans and cats.

Around 10 percent of people have allergies to cats, and about a quarter of all homes have cats. Also, children are more likely to get asthma if they become sensitive to cats.

A key HypoPet researcher said:

"Both human subjects and animals could profit from this treatment because allergic cat owners would reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as asthma, and become more tolerant of their cats, which therefore could stay in the households and not need to be relinquished to animal shelters."

There are currently no treatments for people with cat allergies. Most often, the only way to treat cat allergy symptoms is by avoiding cats altogether. This is especially hard for cat lovers who have had to part with their feline friends due to severe allergies. Allergic reactions to cats are the third most common reason why cat owners give up their pets.

Dr. Gary Jennings, CEO of Saiba Animal Heath, hopes to have the HypoCat vaccine on the market soon. Dr. Jennings said in a statement,

We are very pleased to publish this data. 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 development of HypoCat™.

The HypoCat vaccine may be available in the United States by 2024.

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Adeleid Haugen
prefix 3 months ago
I am so hopeful about this vaccine, and wrote to Saiba a couple of weeks ago to ask when we can expect it on the market. I really wish for 2024, but this was the answer I got:

‘Dear Adeleid
Thank you for your interest in our vaccine. Trying to help people and their cats is the reason we began this project. Because we are a very small company we have had to out-license the project to a large animal health company who is now completely responsible for the development and marketing of the vaccine. If all goes well, we estimate that the vaccine is several years from the market so we advise you to follow the recommendations of your GP or Allergologist in the management of cat allergy.
Kind regards
Tom Paulus’
prefix 3 months ago
In 2020, the development and commercialization rights for HypoCat were transferred from Benchmark to a leading global animal health company.
This information is from the hypopet website and is 3 years old. So if we were 4 or 5 years from commercialization, 2024 would be the fourth year.
prefix 4 months ago
Nice article. Just wish it was true about the vaccine availability in 2024. I talked to Gary Jennings. He said they are at least 4-5 years away. So not 2024. Maybe 2029 is more accurate. The misinformation caused real harm already. I know of folx who got a kitten because of this article and others thinking that they would vaccinate it and reduce the allergies that way, after all, only a year to wait, not too bad. Not so fast. Well, these days it seems that everything written online is a lie, whether or not it's written by an AI.