Science News

Purrfect Pussy

Sat, 30th Sep 2006

Part of the show Science Question and Answer - New Horizons Mission

The cat guaranteed to spare you sneezes and wheezes - a US company - Allerca - are marketing a cat which they say will not trigger allergies. The moggies are marketing at $4000 (US) and produce a different form of a genes called Feld1, which is responsible for triggering reactions in sufferers. In trials, blindfolded volunteers were exposed to the allergy-free cat, a regular cat and a furry dummy cat. They were then asked to keep a diary to document any allergy symptoms. The results suggested that the allergy-free cat, called Joshua, was less irritating to the volunteers than the regular cat, named Tiki. Allerca's founder, Simon Brodie, says that he he initially began by trying to engineer a low-allergy cat, but in the process of doing so stumbled upon three animals that naturally make a slightly different "wheeze-free" version of the Feld1 protein. "You could say we got lucky", he says. However, Allerca have yet to publish their work in a peer-reviewed journal so that it can be scrutinised by other scientists. As a result some researchers have expressed doubt over the findings, saying that Allerca should produce evidence that their cat's skin and hair do not bind to human antibodies. Responding to the critics, however, Brodie said "We don't have the data yet, but we do know the animals work. If these scientists are sceptical, and if they happen to be allergic themselves, I would say 'come and hold one of our cats'".


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