For one in ten people, having a cat nearby means coughing, sneezing, teary eyes and itching. Interest in cat allergies has also been growing in recent years, especially since domestic cats have evolved into “always house cats” and thus often act on our immune system.
We always associate cat allergies with their skin and hair, but the culprit actually lies in their saliva: the Fel d1 protein. Since cats lick themselves profusely, their skin and hair are also covered in it. This is how you get boss sniffers.
US researchers from the Indoor Biotechnologies Research Center want to tackle the problem at the source. They succeeded in inactivating the Fel d1 protein by the crispr-cas gene editing technique. in the magazine CRISPR magazine They write that in this way it is possible to make a cat allergy-free – without harming the animal, they say.
At the same time, it’s not really clear what the function of the protein in question is for cats. Males have more than female cats, and kittens do not produce them. So it could be a pheromone that cats hope to attract each other. Currently, the researchers have conducted their research only in a Petri dish. Now they want to develop a so-called ‘knockout cat’: a cat in which the Fel d1 protein has been knocked out.
However, their ultimate goal is not to breed an allergy-free breed, lead researcher Nicole Brackett wrote in an email. Instead, she and her colleagues aim for a treatment that cat owners or veterinarians can administer periodically to make their cat less irritable.
In any case, the path to GMO allergy-free cats is open then. Perhaps we should, once again, ask ourselves how far we want to go with CRISPR. So what, the mice you don’t have to be afraid of?
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