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Breakthrough for Cat and Dog Allergy Sufferers

Posted on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 12:46PM by Andi Godfrey


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Research carried out at the University of Cambridge has given knew hope to those who suffer from severe cat and dog allergies.

Until now, scientists have been mystified by the severe reaction to cat dander suffered by some individuals but this new research pin points how the cat allergen, known as Fel d 1, triggers an immune response receptor that is also involved in allergic responses to dust mites.

An immune response occurs when the body recognises a threat or danger to human life often caused by viruses or bacteria.  The immune system works through receptors in the body which are proteins that recognise and react to specific pathogens and trigger an inflammatory reaction.  Occasionally the receptors will misidentify a harmless substance and will fire the same response.

Fel d 1 has been recognised as a cat allergen for some time.  It is present in the particles shed from cat’s fur and include saliva from grooming.  The particles are found in bedding, carpets, and furnishings around the home.

In this new research Bryant and colleagues discovered that Fel d 1 teams up with a bacterial toxin called lipopolysaccharide (LPS) that is found everywhere in the environment and the smallest doses of this toxin can cause a severe immune response such as those seen in people with an allergy to cats.

In this study, researchers exposed human cells to cat and dog dander and in some they added low levels of the bacterial toxin, LPS.  Not only did they find that LPS increases and intensifies an immune response but they were also able to identify the part of the immune system, known as TLR4 that was reacting to the combination of cat allergen and bacterial toxin.  The same immune response was promoted using the dog allergen, Can f 6 combined with LPS. The scientists found they could prevent the inflammatory immune response by using a drug to block the receptor.

The hope is that on the strength of this research, new and improved treatments for cat and dog allergy sufferers will be found.
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