When Will the Cat Allergy Vaccine be Available?
The medical field is constantly evolving as new scientific discoveries and inventions come to light. One steadily evolving field is vaccines.
Scientists have been testing the ways vaccines may help, or even cure, allergy sufferers. For many people, allergies are a daily reality. They range from a mild nuisance to a life-threatening condition.
One vaccine that was making headlines was called Cat-Spire. If the tests succeeded, it would revolutionize the field of cat allergy vaccines, and possibly allergy vaccines in general.
Unfortunately, Cat-Spire failed its trial in the third phase. But that doesn’t mean there’s no possible future for cat allergy vaccines.
Cat-Spire’s failure didn’t occur until late into the clinical testing stage. It had garnered a great deal of media attention and was considered one of the most promising upcoming allergy treatments. But a clinical trial indicated that a placebo was equally as effective as the treatment.
Essentially, the treatment’s effects could all be written off as brainpower rather than actual physical changes.
There have been approved cat allergy vaccines in the past. However, the treatment tends to be grueling. Right now, the entire vaccination process takes three years and requires about 100 shots.
The goal of Cat-Spire was to reduce that number to four shots in just four months.
The failure of the study is disappointing to many cat lovers suffering from allergies. It’s not clear where the future of allergy vaccines is headed.
However, the scientists behind Cat-Spire are tirelessly working to form a better understanding of cat allergies and potential immunization.
The failure of Cat-Spire doesn’t mean there will never be an easily accessible cat allergy vaccination. But it might be a while.
Factors Influencing the Study
It’s unusual for new treatments to get this far in clinical trials before failing. The scientists behind Cat-Spire say there are a number of factors that may be at play.
Previous studies showed that the vaccine improved cat allergy symptoms in patients. The small studies yielded such positive results that the treatment managed to get to phase 3, in which more than 1,000 participants enrolled. It was only then that the disappointing news broke.
One of the biggest reasons for the false positives is the amount of variables involved. Every participant in the study had a cat allergy. But it’s impossible to tell which symptoms are conclusively caused by the cat allergy, and which are caused by other conditions.
The exact symptoms vary from person to person. However, cat allergies often involve swelling of the nose and eyes, congestion, and respiratory issues. People may also develop hives as a result of their immune system flooding their body with histamine.
It’s possible that some participants’ “cat allergy symptoms” weren’t actually related to cat allergies at all. For example, someone may have sinus congestion and a swollen nose due to the common cold.
If that cold cleared up while they participated in the Cat-Spire trial, they may mistakenly believe that the treatment had alleviated allergy symptoms.
Cat-Spire isn’t the only study being done of allergy vaccines. There are also studies being done regarding the effectiveness of peptide shots on dust mite and birch allergies. The overall goal is to use synthetic peptides for allergy treatment.
Peptides are compounds made up of at least two amino acids in a chain. When a person has an allergic reaction, their immune system is mistakenly labeling harmless substances as harmful. Synthetic peptides can, in theory, correct the mistaken signals of the immune system.
Though Cat-Spire didn’t work, scientists hope that other allergies can be treated using these peptide therapies. They have shown promise in multiple clinical trials regarding several common allergens.
Current Allergy Shots
There is a treatment for cat allergies currently available. It may appeal to cat lovers who wish to cuddle their feline pals without suffering symptoms.
However, it’s not as easy as a simple vaccine. Allergy shots, otherwise known as immunotherapy, are the current treatment for cat allergies. This is the only currently proven way to get rid of cat allergies in the long term.
Other medications treat the symptoms of any allergic reaction, but don’t treat the allergy itself. Symptom management is an option for people who don’t want to go through the difficult immunotherapy process.
Unlike peptide vaccines, allergy shots don’t try to fix the immune system itself. Instead, they try to “teach” the immune system not to react to harmless particles. People are injected with tiny amounts of an allergen, with the amounts increasing as time goes on.
For cat allergies, this means having a small portion of cat protein injected into the body. However, the gradual increase of the treatment means it takes a long time.
Patients won’t see results for months, and once they reach the maximum allergen dosage, they need to continue getting maintenance shots for years. Most people take three to five years before the immunotherapy course is over.
This process can be time-consuming and costly. Not to mention that it involves nearly 100 injections. That’s why scientists are so eager to find a more accessible solution.
Peptide-based vaccines are still in the developmental stage. Cat-Spire failed its clinical trial, but that doesn’t mean a cat allergy vaccine will never be invented. Peptides are being studied as treatments for a number of different allergens as well.
Immunotherapy is the only option that can offer a potential cure for an allergy. However, this process takes between three and five years, tends to cost a lot, and involves nearly a hundred shots. For many people, it isn’t viable.
Some medications can treat allergy symptoms. They won’t fix the underlying problem with the immune system, but they will help alleviate the severity of attacks.