Cat allergy in human subjects is usually caused by the major cat allergen Fel d 1 and is found in approximately 10% of the Western population. Currently, there is no efficient and safe therapy for cat allergy available. Allergic patients usually try to avoid cats or treat their allergy symptoms.
HypoPet AG, a privately held Swiss biotechnology company based in Zürich, Switzerland, developed a new strategy to treat Fel d 1–induced allergy in humans not by desensitizing them but rather by immunizing cats against their own major allergen, Fel d 1
Tears are one of the main sources of Fel d 1 and were therefore analyzed for Fel d 1 levels upon vaccination with Fel-CuMVTT. To perform the analysis of tears, the scientists developed a method for collecting and extracting tears. Tears were collected by using STT stripes, extracted in PBS-Tween, and quantified for Fel d 1 levels by means of ELISA in relation to a standard allergen solution. A meta-analysis of 18 cats from 3 independent studies showed a significant mean reduction of Fel d 1 level by a factor of 2.7.
The vaccine was tested in more than 50 cats to date and induced a strong and sustained immune response against Fel d 1 in all animals. No severe clinical signs, skin irritation at the site of injection, or changes in food consumption or behavior were observed. Minor signs, including increased temperature, loss of appetite, or reduced activity, were reversible 24 to 72 hours after immunization. Thus targeting Fel d 1 by means of induction of antibodies through vaccination in cats was judged to be safe and well tolerated. The immune responses against the self-protein Fel d 1 and the foreign CuMVTT were comparable with regard to kinetics and magnitude.
Dr Gary Jennings, CEO of HypoPet AG, commented, “We are very pleased to publish this data which shows our HypoCat™ vaccine is able to produce high levels of antibodies in cats and that these antibodies can bind and neutralize the Fel d 1 allergen produced by the animals. This work was a key step in the milestone driven development of HypoCat™, the lead project in our product pipeline. Moreover, our development partner Benchmark Holdings recently announced successful completion of other key safety and efficacy trials and transfer of the HypoCat manufacture process to GMP. Consequently, we are pressing ahead with registration studies and discussions with European and U.S regulators with the hope of bringing this much-needed product to the market”
As exciting as this new vaccine may be, it is still in its pre-clinical phase and needs to pass a multitude of tests and trials before being made available to the public…but hey, hang in there cat lovers…we’re almost there.