Great news for cat lovers who have allergies. Scientists have discovered how the animals we love so much trigger those horrible allergic reactions suffered by so many.
For years it has been common knowledge that it is not the animal but the dander that triggers an allergy attack. Leaving those that suffer feeling awful and ready to condemn their beloved Fluffy to a life of constant baths and dreaded vacuuming.
However that may all be close to an end.
Recently a team of scientists at University of Cambridge have spent some time studying our immune system’s extreme reaction to cat allergens and found some interesting things that may help give us (and Fluffy) the relief we so desperately need.
During their study researchers found that the most common cause of a severe allergic reactions to dander was due to the Fel d 1 protein. A protein found largely in cat saliva and within it’s sebaceous glands.
By exposing human cells to those proteins they observed that when a bacterial toxin called lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was present, the body’s response to the cat protein is intensified.
Causing the pathogen recognition receptor TLR4 (Toll-like receptor 4), the part of the human immune system that recognizes a contaminated protein, to rush in and intercept causing a myriad of physical reactions throughout the body.
Using a drug that inhibits the TLR4 from responding researchers saw that it blocked the effects of the cat dander protein on human cells and triggered no physical response.
Dr Claire Bryant, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and lead author of the research said the team is hopeful that this study will lead to new and improved treatments for cat and dog allergy sufferers.
“How cat dander causes such a severe allergic reaction in some people has long been a mystery. Not only did we find out that LPS exacerbates the immune response’s reaction to cat dander, we identified the part of immune system that recognizes it, the receptor TLR4.”
“As drugs have already been developed to inhibit the receptor TLR4, we are hopeful that our research will lead to new and improved treatments.”
The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC) and was published in the Journal of Immunology.
For many long time allergy sufferers this news not only spells relief but it also open up a new world and a new home to many of those cats still living in shelters. Giving them the opportunity to finally find a family to love.