Do you like cats, but you can't live next door because as soon as they reach the "nose" you start to sneeze, water and scratch because your skin is filled with strange bubbles? This news could change your life. In fact, by 2007, the first 500 cats that do not cause allergic reactions in their owners will be on the market. To "make them" will be a Californian company that already started the "mass production" of hypoallergenic cats with complex genetic engineering interventions two years ago. Road too complicated and soon abandoned to follow that of intersections of different races.
The protein that makes you sneeze.
Cat hair allergy is actually an allergy to a protein - called FEL D1 - present in the hair but also in the saliva, urine and sebaceous glands of our feline friends.
"We have known for a long time that there are some cats in nature that produce very small amounts of FEL D1, " explains Robert Wood, director of the Department of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore (USA).
The company has subjected cats to genetic screening to identify harmless animals, breed them and reproduce them. The result is a feline population unable to trigger asthma and other such ailments.
To test the cats, one chose the simplest way, the empirical one. Subjects sensitive to cat hair were first exposed to hypoallergenic animals and then to a control group of "normal" cats. The difference in terms of sneezing and redness of the eyes was clearly visible.
But scientists warn: allergies, as far as we know, vary a lot over time. The reduction in the FEL D1 concentration in cats could therefore not shelter the most sensitive subjects, which would thus not benefit from the hypoallergenic cat. Add to this the fact that "harmless" animals are very expensive (around 5 to 10, 000 euros), it is perhaps best to endure some sneezing.