Cat Allergy Research: Scientists Discover Protein Trigger, Promise Cure In 5 Years [REPORT]
Cat allergy research in Britain could lead to a possible cure for kitty allergy sufferers. Researchers at Cambridge University in the UK have located the protein in cat dander that triggers the sniffly, sneezy, wheezy reaction in humans. The exact cause of such an allergic response has long been a mystery, but scientists say their cat allergy research could lead to a cure within the next five years.
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"This is the first time we have discovered the process that leads to the allergic reaction," Dr. Clare Bryant, lead author of the cat allergy research study, told The Daily Mail. "It opens up a whole new type of drug to treat it."
CBC News reports that the protein in cat dander responsible for cat allergies reacts with a common environmental bacterial toxin known as lipopolysaccharides, or LPS. When these two contaminates combine, they activate an immune receptor in humans called TLR 4. That's when we begin to sneeze.
When a cat licks itself, it spreads saliva, skin cells and hormones on to its fur. Then, when the hair falls out, it transfers the protein responsible for adverse reactions in humans onto sofas, rugs, tabletops and even the air. It also gets stuck to people's clothes and shoes, and is tracked all over. Cat allergy research has come a long way, and scientists now know that a cure for allergy sufferers will involve blocking the protein from reacting with the immune system.
"By understanding the triggering mechanism, there are now drugs that have been designed that are in clinical trials for other conditions, such as sepsis, that could potentially then be used in a different way to treat cat allergy and to prevent cat allergy," Dr. Bryant told BBC News.
Cat allergy attacks range from sneezing, coughing and wheezing to hives or a rash on the chest and face. Red, itchy eyes is another common consequence of cat allergies.
One-third of all U.S. households have one or more cats; 39 percent of them have one or more dogs. The most common pet allergy is cat allergy. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 10 million people are allergic to cat dander.
Allergies are the fifth most common chronic disease in the U.S. More than half of all Americans test positive for some kind of allergy. The annual estimate of the annual cost of allergies to the U.S. health care system and businesses is $7.9 billion.
News of the cat allergy research coming out of Britain should give cat allergy sufferers hope for a clearer future. Scientists may be able to deliver a cure, as either a pill or through an inhaler, that could effectively block the allergic reaction.
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