RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Tired of itching and scratching around feline friends? Researchers say they have figured out what exactly causes people to have intense reactions to cat dander.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge are reporting that a single protein in cat hair is responsible for triggering the reactions.
Scientists have found that when the protein combines with a common bacterial toxin, it gets picked up by receptors in the human body that trigger a large response from the immune system, the allergic reaction.
Dr. Clare Bryant is the lead author of the research, which was conducted at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Veterinary Medicine.
“How cat dander causes such a severe allergic reaction in some people has long been a mystery. Not only did we find out that [the bacterial toxin] exacerbates the immune response’s reaction to cat dander, we identified the part of immune system that recognizes it,” says Bryant, who worked with 12 other researchers across the world to find the cause of the allergic reactions.
The discovery could lead to better treatment and a possible cure for allergies from cats as well as dogs.