New research could help cure cat allergies

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. Photo: PA Images

Scientists at Cambridge University think they have found the cause of cat allergies, a discovery that could make finding a cure easier.

New research reveals how the most common cause of severe allergic reactions to cats, a protein found in cat skin, triggers an allergic response.

The protein has now been identified as Fel d 1. Scientists think that the protein, combined with a common bacteria, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), triggers an immune response in the body, an allergic reaction.

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. Credit: PA Images

Allergic reactions are the result of the immune system overreacting to a perceived danger. Instead of identifying and responding to a harmful virus or bacteria, it misidentifies different allergens, including dander (microscopic pieces of animal skin often accompanied by dried saliva from grooming), as dangerous and mounts an immune response.

Because the scientists have discovered how the body recognises and responds to the proteins, it makes finding a way of stopping it much easier.

Dr Clare Bryant, lead author of the research from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, said:

“How cat dander causes such a severe allergic reaction in some people has long been a mystery.

“As drugs have already been developed to inhibit the receptor TLR4, we are hopeful that our research will lead to new and improved treatments for cat and possibly dog allergy sufferers.”

– Dr Clare Bryant, University of Cambridge

The research was published in the The Journal of Immunology.