You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 6 a.m.

New study could lead to treatment for those with cat allergies

By Lorrie Shaw


Flickr photo by theapoc

Allergies are once again rearing their ugly heads for a lot of people here in Michigan, despite the wintry weather. The offending triggers can be as complex as the symptoms that are suffered, but one source of the misery might be easier to manage, according to a recent clinical trial and study.

Clinicians note that cat allergies are among one of the top of the list when it comes to their patient's reactions. If not having close contact with an animal could solve the problem, that would be simple. Unfortunately, what triggers the allergic reaction is the protein in the cat's dander (dried flakes of skin), saliva and urine in those who are hypersensitive it.

I find that my own sensitivity level (yes, a pet sitter with cat allergies!) varies from pet to pet, so I think that it's safe to say that not all felines are created equal in their biochemistry.

That being said, a loved one who has unmanageable allergies of this sort can complicate things for families: ramping up housekeeping efforts (click here for my previous piece on that) and medication can only go so far.

Sometimes, the hard decision to relinquish the beloved animal to another good home or a shelter is the only choice. In fact, it's one of the most common reasons that people cite for parting ways with their cat.

Mark Larché, professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Allergy and Immune Tolerance, presented results of the second phase of a clinical trial at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology this past week.

During the trial, 202 participants were given the treatment or a placebo over a period of three months. Fifty of the original patients returned in 24 months to be checked for symptoms while exposed to feline allergens.

The patients who had taken four doses of the treatment maintained a marked reduction in symptoms throughout their exposure to cat allergens over a four day period.

"Sustaining such a substantial improvement in patients' allergy symptoms two years after the start of the study is remarkable," remarked Larché.

"Achieving this with a short course of just four doses is even more impressive. These results suggest that the therapy has the potential to revolutionize treatment for cat allergy patients."

Could this mean that more cats could keep their loving homes? We can only hope.

The third phase of the study is slated to begin and if all goes well, the treatment could be available on the market in two years.

Click here to read more about the research.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly.


Sarah Rigg

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Excellent news! My husband has cat dander allergies and we do the special housekeeping chores and other environmental management so we can keep our kitties, but a treatment like this would be wonderful.

Lorrie Shaw

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

Sarah, I can relate. As my cat, Silver has aged, his biochemistry has too. I've become more sensitive to his dander. But as you noted, special housekeeping chores are necessary to keep the peace. It's worked well, but I know that I would benefit from a treatment like this. Thanks for chiming in!