Curing people of the dreaded allergy to domestic cats with an oral dust mite extract in a pill sounds extraordinary but it may well come true in the not too distant future. It is a potential cure through immunotherapy.
Trials lead by Professor Arshad at Southampton University, UK have shown that babies can be desensitised to various allergens by giving then a extract of the dust mite. The results are startling. It is early days though. Several more years of trials are required before it can be brought to the market. This reminds me of the concept of exposing babies to close contact with cats to achieve the same result.
The trials indicate that allergy rates were 63% lower (almost 2/3rds) in babies given the treatment.
A quarter (25%) of the babies given a placebo – the control group – developed allergies to grass, dust, cats, eggs and peanuts while just 9.4% of babies given the dust mite extract developed did so.
Professor Arshad says:
“Although dust mites are an important cause of asthma and allergy, using the same allergen in an oral extract form, known as immunotherapy, can reduce the body’s reaction to not only dust mites but also other important allergens..”
I suspect that the main motivation for these trials was to prevent the raise in asthma. However, the feline allergen affects an estimated 10% of the population. In the UK that equates to getting on for a million cat owners and 30 million in the USA. A study at the New Jersey Medical School has shown an increase in the number of asthma sufferers who are also allergic to cats.
If this research develops to the marketplace it could improve the lives of 20 million America cat owners and encourage many more sufferers to adopt a cat with the consequential increase in the number of people able to adopt a shelter cat. Also there will be less relinquishments.
The cat allergen is an actual and potential barrier to cat ownership. A cure is important for the long term welfare of the domestic cat.
Tag: cat allergies
Source: Times Newspaper 12th June 2014.