Thursday 12 June 2014

Dust Mite Extract Immunotherapy - Cure for Cat Allergy

Cat made a person allergicIt seems likely that science will be able to reduce the large number of people who are allergic to the domestic cat through dust mite extract immunotherapy administered orally in a pill perhaps.

Researchers at University Hospital Southampton lead by Hasan Arshad have discovered that it is possible to dramatically reduce a baby's allergic reaction to allergens causing allergies by exposing the babies to dust mites. As a result they are less likely to develop allergies to food, pets and dust, which points to a future cure for a sizeable percentage of the population of allergy sufferers.

In the trials a quarter (25%) of those in the control group (those given a placebo) developed allergies to:
  • dust
  • grass
  • cats
  • eggs or
  • peanuts.
This is similar to the general population. Yet only 9.4% of those on the dust mite extract oral treatment did so. The tests were carried out using skin pricks.

These are early days - it will be several years before something is available at your doctor's -  and for many these trials have come too late but they indicate that sensitising children to allergens when very young could help them avoid allergies when they are adults.

There are an estimated 10% of the population who are allergic to domestic cats. This is approximately 30m in the USA. If, in the future, a reduction of about 63% can be achieved, it would dramatically improve the lives of about 20 million Americans who care for a pet.

There are many cat allergy sufferers who wish to look after a cat. In the future there appears to be hope for these people. That would help rehome unwanted cats too.

The cat in the photo caused an allergic reaction in her owner. She was relinquished. Photo by Jennifer McGinn

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