Approximately 10 million cats can be found in France, unfortunately 25% of French people are allergic to them.
In reality, we are not allergic to the cat, but to a protein present on the animal's hair: Felis domesticus 1, Fel d1.
This is a major allergen, because about 85% of patients allergic to cats react to this protein, i.e. their antibodies detect the molecule, but cause a wrong reaction of the immune system, which will lead to reactions such as rhinitis, conjunctivitis, rhinoconjunctivitis and sometimes even asthma.
The protein is secreted by the salivary glands, the tear glands, the sebaceous glands and the anal glands, it is therefore present all over the animal's body, and consequently on its hair.
It is an important aeroallergen that is very resistant and ubiquitous, which is why Fel d 1 persists for a relatively long time in its environment and is easily transported in the air, on dust particles, on clothes, etc. Therefore, we can find the protein in various places, even places where there are no cats (hospitals, schools, public transport, etc.).
Fel d 1 is one of the most important allergens of animal origin, so the need to find a solution seemed obvious. Research has been carried out to overcome this problem, which is inconvenient for humans, but there is no real solution for cat allergy, although some possibilities have been explored. Today, the most recommended solution remains the eviction of the cat from the patient's environment, which can sometimes create difficult situations that damage the emotional bond between man and his animal.
For the IRSEA, it was important that this solution be respectful of the cat's biology and well-being. Indeed:
Two observations supported our desire to find out more:
- The cat secretes an important quantity of Fel d 1, this protein must have a biological function for the cat (several micrograms per day).
- Fel d 1 and semiochemicals are secreted by the same anatomical zones of the cat (cheek, anal sac for example) suggesting a close link between them.
At IRSEA, we wanted to go against existing research. We wanted to understand the utility of this secretion, for the cat, rather than trying to eliminate it by all means. It is important for us to understand the biological role of fel d1 before developing strategies to neutralize this allergen. This is why we have been studying this protein for about 15 years. This work led to the defense of a thesis in 2009 by Dr. Bienboire-Frosini and the publication of articles by IRSEA researchers. Very recently, they have just published an article showing that Fel d 1 is able to bind to semiochemical molecules, thus confirming its role in chemical communication in cats. This illustrates the need to consider the importance of the biological role of Fel d 1 before seeking to neutralize this molecule in the animal.
for more information, you will find below a link to this last article in free access : HERE