Gene-editing technology for allergy free cats 2018-08-29T12:23:08+01:00
gene-editing technology

Allergy free cats

Do you love the idea of having a furry friend to keep you company at home, but can’t face the streaming nose and itchy eyes? An estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets, with cat allergies being two times more prevalent than dog allergies. Children between the ages of 6 and 19 have a one in seven chance of being allergic to cats. So what can be done about it, without involving a lifetime of antihistamine medication and constant vacuum cleaning? Two US companies claim to have found the answer in gene-editing.

Delivering allergy free cats

Indoor Biotechnologies and Felix Pets have both filed patents for gene-editing experiments that they are currently conducting, and are confident they can provide successful allergy-free cats. This is not a new idea – in 2009, a company called Allerca claimed that they could deliver allergy-free kittens, costing upwards of $4,000. This claim was soon debunked, however, when in 2013 ABC wrote a report in which they exposed Allerca’s attempt to sell an alleged allergy-free kitten to reporters; it was, in fact, an ordinary cat from a breeder.

Despite the apparent setbacks and difficulties in producing genuine kittens that don’t cause allergic reactions, gene-editing still remains a highly viable option. Managing allergies in people is very much trial and error, with tablets and injections producing inconsistent results. Being the first to market with a cat that negates the need for all that would be a huge advantage.

People with feline allergies are reacting to a protein on the cat’s skin called Fel d 1, with male cats producing the most, neutered toms less and females the least. It is suspected that this protein plays a part in keeping the cat’s skin healthy, which is why simply editing it out potentially doesn’t work. As Peggy Ozias-Akins, director of theInstitute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics explained in Technology Review, “Getting actual animals is likely the harder part, not editing the genes.”

It is this juxtaposition between the theory of gene-editing and the practicality of producing results that also provides a stumbling block for investment. Indeed, the founder of Felix Pets, David Avner, has been attempting to create an allergy-free cat for years, but has to carry out his research on a small budget due to scepticism from investors. Of course, the research and development required to successfully clone or engineer a healthy and normal, but allergy-free cat is extensive, arduous and costly.

This scenario is all too common, with companies needing as much research and development funding as they can get their hands on, in order to prove the theory and produce a sample. As R&D Tax Specialists with years of experience and clients across all industries, we can help you and your business realise greater budgets for developing your ideas and making them a reality. Taking less than three minutes to use our R&D relief calculator will give you an estimated R&D Claim figure. To find out more, contact us today.

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