Scientists Develop Vaccine That Could Stop Cat Allergies | 22 Words

Allergies can come in all shapes and sizes. Some people are allergic to nuts, some unfortunate souls are allergic to the air (hay-fever sufferers, I'm looking at you), and some suffer from allergies to animals.

Yes, this is perhaps the cruelest of them all. Well, if you hate animals, then maybe it's a blessing. But most of us animal-lovers couldn't imagine anything worse than not being able to cuddle our furry counterparts every day.

But now, there is a glimmer of hope for all the itchy-eyed, sniffly-nosed sufferers leading lonely and hollow animal-less lives out there.

Swiss scientists have developed a vaccine that could potentially cure the allergy to cat hair, which is obviously amazing news for all allergic animal-lovers out there. And for feline haters? You'll just have to come up with a better excuse to avoid your friends' cats, won't you?

Keep reading to hear more about the new vaccine, which could be available as soon as just a few years...

Cats. You either love them or you hate them.

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Yet, despite our feline friends' somewhat moody reputation, cats remain the most popular pet to own in the U.S.

Though they aren't always the most enthusiastic of pets...

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But let's be real, there's something quite endearing, and quite frankly adorable, about their constantly nonchalant attitudes.

Dogs are out, cats are in.

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I'm going to be real honest here - The neediness of dogs can get downright annoying. And there’s nothing quite as soothing as a purring kitty to cuddle up to at the end of a long day, is there?

And, as a result, the internet is now riddled with cute and funny cat videos.

Don't deny it! Everyone has, at some point in their lives, sat and googled funny cat videos on the internet for hours on end. Because what’s more entertaining than videos of cats wearing ketchup pots as hats?

We just can't get enough of our feline friends.

And we can't get enough of sticking slices of bread around their startled little faces either, apparently...

Long story short, cats are just the best.

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They're incredibly clean, easy to care for, loving (mostly) and they make the best life companions. But, for some people, there's a catch, as there is with most of the lovelier things in life.

Some people are allergic to cats.

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I know. It isn't worth thinking about. Contrary to prior belief, the allergy itself isn't caused by the actual animal - It is triggered by a protein called Fel-d1, which is present mainly in the cat's fur. The protein attaches itself to particles of the cat's fur and skin, which can be shed onto other surfaces such as bedding and couches.

This protein can cause a rush of histamines in allergy sufferers.

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A histamine is the typical allergic response triggered by the immune system when it thinks it is under attack. Symptoms of this allergy typically include flu and cold-like side-effects, such as sneezing, coughing, itchy and sore eyes, and stuffy noses.

Though some side-effects can be more severe.

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Those who already suffer from asthma can have much more serious side effects when they come into contact with a cat - Their airways are extra sensitive to certain allergens, meaning once they get into the body, their immune system overreacts, causing the muscles around the airways to tighten and constrict. This will result in inflamed airways and difficulty breathing.

There are some temporary cures already on the market.

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People often resort to taking antihistamines, a type of medicine that eases the common cold and flu-like symptoms of allergic reactions. Though these have proven effective for many allergy sufferers, they don't last forever, and only mask the symptoms instead of curing the allergy completely.

But, sadly, there is no approved cure for a cat allergy.

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The closest thing to a cure that allergy sufferers can currently access is immunotherapy, which slowly exposes sufferers to tiny doses of the allergen... But this can take years before sufferers reap any benefits.

However, the end to a lonely, animal-less life is in sight.

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Allergy sufferers, rejoice! The days of itchy eyes and scratchy throats could be coming to an end after scientists have announced they may have potentially found a cure for the allergen.

A new vaccine has been developed.

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Scientists in Switzerland have developed a vaccine that could potentially put an end to the cat allergies that affect roughly 10 percent of us here in the U.S.

Researchers have been working tirelessly towards a cure for years.

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10 whole years, to be precise. And their hard work has seemingly paid off, as they have found a vaccine that triggers the cat's own immune system to attack and destroy the Fel-d1 protein.

Those who are afraid of needles need not worry.

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Because the vaccine, called HypoCat, would actually be administered to the cat, not the allergy sufferer. A study, which is to be published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, discovered that the jab significantly reduced the amount of harmful Fel-d1 protein produced in the cats.

The HypoCat vaccine caused the cats to produce antibodies that destroy the protein.

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The scientists from the University Hospital Zurich, in Switzerland, claimed that all fifty-four cats that were injected with the vaccine went on to produce the antibodies – or ‘defender’ cells – needed to destroy the protein.

Within the next 3 years, the vaccine could well be available.

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And it will benefit both the allergy sufferers and the cats themselves. As one of the scientists explained,

"Both humans and animals could profit from this treatment. Allergic cat owners would reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, such as asthma. Their cats could stay in the households and not need to be relinquished to animal shelters."

Because with the growing number of allergy sufferers...

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Cats are frequently finding themselves being returned to animal shelters as a result of their owners' allergy.

More and more cats are being abandoned because of the allergy.

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The British charity, Cats Protection, have claimed that they receive "hundreds of phone calls a year" from owners who have had allergic reactions to their pets and need to rehome them. Think of the kitties and get the vaccine when you can!

Because cats are the new man's best friend...

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Or are they? Some people argue that cats, unlike dogs, are simply evil and are plotting their takeover of the human race. Okay, that sounded a little dramatic, I know. But one man actually made a grizzly discovery at what his cat would get up to while he slept... And it's quite scary, to say the least. Keep reading to hear his story, though he managed to see a much cuter side to it all.