There have been some useful advances in the search for a solution to the miseries of allergic reactions to our beloved pets. A recent Allergy Best Buys blog post looked at the promising development of a vaccine against dog allergies. And now scientists are using cutting-edge technology to make allergic reactions to cats a thing of the past.
It has been known for some time that a single gene and its protein Fel D 1 are the primary cause of 90 per cent of cat allergies. Researchers have mostly focussed on ways to neutralise the effects of the protein.
But scientists at InBio, a US company that specialises in biotechnologies, are going a after the root cause and aim to delete the gene itself. Using Crispr, a gene-editing tool, the researchers extracted DNA from the discarded tissue left after a cat had been neutered or spayed. They studied the gene's formulation and compared it to the equivalent from eight other cat species including tigers, lions and leopards. They found the gene has at least 18 different guises which look completely different depending on the species and this, say the scientists, suggests it has no known purpose and could most likely be removes without consequence. In the laboratory, they used Crispr to target the gene, cut it out and deactivate it without difficulty.
In their study, published in The CRISPR Journal, the authors write: "Our data indicate that Fel D 1 is a rational and viable candidate for gene deletion , which may profoundly benefit cat allergy sufferers by removing the major allergen at source."
Meanwhile, if you're allergic to cats you'll find some useful ways to reduce the allergen load and minimise the effects of pet allergen in your home here.