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Cat Allergy Vaccine Development Under Way

Published Online: Monday, September 1, 2003   [ Request Print ]

    Media reports have suggested that an asthma vaccine is imminent. Initial research has focused on a vaccine for people with a cat allergy. Experts, however, have stated that, although the results are encouraging, a real vaccine is still years away.

    Prof. Barry Kay, MD, PhD, and Dr. Mark Larch?, PhD, at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, have developed a prototype vaccine for people with an allergy to cats. This prototype could eventually be applied to many allergens, including pollen and dust mites. Using the structure of whole allergens, they have designed a synthetic vaccine. This approach is unlike allergy shots, because it targets only the body?s T cells, which direct the allergic response. Instead of injecting the whole allergen, the researchers use only the small parts of it that react with T cells. This approach reduces the risk of side effects and allows a higher dose of treatment to be administered, compared with conventional immunotherapy.

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