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News Article

ALLERCA Reveal Hypoallergenic Cats

ALLERCA has unveiled the world’sfirst hypoallergenic cats.

ALLERCA has unveiled the world’s first hypoallergenic cats. ALLERCA’s first customers are expected to take delivery of their hypoallergenic kittens in early 2007. The ALLERCA hypoallergenic cat is the first of a planned series of lifestyle pets that ALLERCA will develop over the next few years.

By using proprietary genetic technology, ALLERCA manipulated naturally occurring genetic variations in cats, specifically targeting the gene Fel D1 that is responsible for the production of the common cat allergen. ALLERCA’s technology detected genetic divergence in the sequence of the Fel D1 gene. By selectively breeding these genetically divergent (GD) cats and testing the presence of this divergent "code" in the offspring, ALLERCA claims to have produced the world’s first genetically divergent hypoallergenic cats.

In October 2004, the company, then in Los Angeles, made national headlines when it announced that it intended to create genetically modified allergen-free cats by using RNA interference to "silence" the gene in cats that produces the irritant, (see Allerca Promises Allergen-Free Transgenic Cats). Two years later, ALLERCA isn’t claiming to have created transgenic animals, instead, the company devised a genetic test to screen cats for genetic variation in the gene Fel D1 that is responsible for the production of the common cat allergen.

According to ALLERCA, in recent exposure trials, individuals with known feline allergies were fully exposed to the ALLERCA GD cats without demonstrating any allergic reactions. When these same individuals were subsequently exposed to non-GD cats, they had immediate allergic reactions that included swollen eyes, difficulty in breathing and hives. Megan Young CEO of ALLERCA said the company plans to publish a scientific paper on its research soon.

"We are thrilled and excited about this scientific breakthrough," said Young. "For the first time, people who have been unable to own a cat because of their allergies can now enjoy a pet of their own without the associated risks and costs of allergy treatments. What is also surprising are the numbers of non-cat allergic individuals who have expressed an interest in owning an ALLERCA GD kitten. We all know someone who suffers from cat allergies, and the benefits of owning an ALLERCA GD cat apply to everyone."

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, approximately 30 million Americans suffer from some form of cat allergy. Cat allergen is one of the three major risk factors for developing childhood allergies, asthma, and other respiratory diseases that are becoming a serious public health issue.

Young continued, "Additionally, ALLERCA GD cats will have a positive impact on the unwanted cat population. Many times, a new cat owner discovers that someone in their immediate household has serious feline allergies and ends up either abandoning the kitten or giving the animal to a shelter. Also, all ALLERCA GD kittens are spayed or neutered before we deliver them to their new owners." Young said the company was now building up its "breeding pool" of cats and ensuring the allergen-free genetic code is passed from generation to generation. Allerca expects to produce 400 to 500 kittens in 2007 at an approximate price of $3,950, and to build that number to 5,000 by 2008.

One of the first people to order an ALLERCA hypoallergenic kitten is Nina Greenberg who lives in New York City with her two children, Lauren and Nicolette. "We are delighted," she said. "We are all allergic to cats and anxiously await our new kitten. It’s well worth the wait." When asked to comment on the price of the ALLERCA GD cat, Nina stated, "This is a family pet that is ideal for us. There is a cost associated with everything in this world and having a cat that will not make us allergic is certainly a worthwhile investment."

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • Louisa Rogers
  • Date
  • 09 June 2006
  • Subject(s)
  • Animal breeding and genetics