New Hope for Cat Allergies- CRISPR Cat


If you've been following our show, you might know about our fascination with cats. Dave and I are long time cat lovers. While we find them irresistible, some people can't be around them. Fifteen percent of people in the US are allergic to cats. Hundreds of thousands end up in the ER, some from asthma attacks. But new studies suggest one day, we could see allergen free cats! That's right, hypoallergenic cats!

First, scientists found the responsible allergen: Fel d one. It's a protein present in cat saliva and secreted through the skin and sweat glands. But the levels of it varies among cats and even in a single cat from day to day. That depends on how much a cat licks its fur or scratches. The allergen becomes airborne once it dries.

The protein comes from two genes: CH-one and CH-two. Researchers were able to determine the genes are not essential to a cat's survival which opens the door for those to be removed from the cat's genome. And produce a hypoallergenic cat! The tool scientists use to modify or remove genes from a genome is called CRISPR and Fel d one is likely an excellent target for this technology.

But you don't have to wait for a hypoallergenic cat. A vaccine injected into cats is in the works that lowers levels of the allergen. Purina has made a cat food that reduces the amount of Fel d one in the fur by nearly half. Neither eliminates the allergen but they could be a stopgap or at least make it easier to love on your fluffy until hopefully this study becomes reality.

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More Information

Researchers Are Closer to Creating Hypoallergenic Cats Using CRISPR Technology
The allergen-causing protein Fel d 1 was removed from feline cells using the gene-editing tool...

Here, CRISPR Kitties?
Researchers at InBio have published a proof-of-principle report in The CRISPR Journal that paves the way toward solving many people's miserable reaction to allergenic cats...

Evolutionary Biology and Gene Editing of Cat Allergen, Fel d 1
Allergy to domestic cat affects up to 15% of the population, and sensitization to cat allergen is associated with asthma. Despite the pervasiveness of cat allergic disease, current treatments have limited impact. Here, we present a bioinformatics analysis of the major cat allergen, Fel d 1, and demonstrate proof of principle for CRISPR gene editing of the allergen...