The cause of humans’ allergic reaction to cats has been discovered and could yield a cure that will allow more people to enjoy the fuzzy felines in their homes.
An allergic reaction typically happens when the immune system overreacts to something it perceives as dangerous, such as pet dander, bee stings, and many medicines. It responds to the intrusion the same way it would a harmful virus or bacteria, mounting an immune response
The cat allergy research was performed by a team from the University of Cambridge and published in the Journal of Immunology. In it, the researchers detail how they identified the pathway that causes an allergic reaction to cats.
The researchers hope that new treatments will be able to block the pathway and effectively cure a person’s allergic reaction to cats, reports the BBC.
The research was headed up by Dr. Clare Bryant, whose team studied the proteins found in particles of cat skin, commonly called dander. The proteins are the most common causes of cat allergies in humans.
When an allergic person encounters a cat, the dander activates a pathway in the body that causes symptoms like coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and a runny nose.
Dr. Bryant explained that discovering the trigger to allergies is important, because researchers can develop a specific medicine to stop the allergic reaction before it can start. The Telegraph notes that the researcher added:
“How cat dander causes such a severe allergic reaction in some people has long been a mystery. This is the first time we have discovered the process that leads to the allergic reaction. It opens up a whole new type of drug to treat it.”
The research also suggests a similar treatment may be of use to people who suffer from dog allergies. But an allergic reaction to cats is particularly nasty, as cat dander is sticky and can be found in a home long after the feline leaves.
Do you have an allergy to cats? Would you own a cat if there was a drug to prevent the allergic reaction?
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