Many cat lovers live with a dilemma: they want to pick up the animals and hold them close, but if they do, their eyes will swell up and they'll start sneezing. Doctors can treat the symptoms of cat allergies, but so far no cure is available. Researchers are, therefore, trying to look at the problem in different ways.
Allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to substances that aren't really able to harm the body. The current method of curing allergies is to give a person small doses of an allergen over a period of years in order to train the immune system to recognize it. But "the problem is that it's like giving a small dose of poison," Dr Andrew Saxon of the University of California at Los Angeles told The Guardian. The body suffers "damage because of your own attack". Instead, he said, his team was interested in finding a way of training the immune system without making people sick.
Saxon's method is to combine a protein from cats with one from humans into a single molecule. When the substance enters the human body, it forces a reaction which the hybrid molecule itself controls. The cat protein, on the one hand, causes an allergic reaction, making the body produce an antibody called immunoglobulin E. The human protein, on the other hand, calms the immune system down. The end result is better resistance to the cat protein without an extreme allergic reaction.
Saxon tested his method on mice that were genetically engineered to be allergic to cats. After only a month, the mice were free of their allergy. The process still has to be tested on humans and perfected, so cat lovers will have to wait several years until the cure is widely available. In the meantime, Saxon wants to look for a cure for food allergies. So far, it has proved difficult to combine proteins from nuts with human proteins, but Saxon believes his method of curing cat allergies can be extended to meet this situation.
2010-01-25 22:26 编辑：kuaileyingyu