Cat allergies affect many people. Sometimes the people the allergy harms want a cat, so a large inconvenience is made.
Sometimes the people the allergy harms come into contact with a cat or its hair without knowing about it. For those people, a potentially harmful situation has been created.
Since the allergy has such a wide reach, allergists, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies, have been on the hunt for some way to prevent the allergy altogether.
Most research has pointed to this being some type of injection. So far, research has pointed to Cat-SPIRE, a treatment from Circassia.
What Causes Cat Allergies?
Many people believe cat allergies are caused by cat hair. This belief is not completely accurate. What really causes the allergic reaction can be blamed on proteins.
These proteins are found in a cat’s dried skin, urine, and saliva. Once these proteins make it into the body, the person’s immune system attacks them as they would a virus, causing the allergic reaction to occur.
It is possible that the allergy is not directly caused by a cat. For example, an outdoor cat may bring in different allergens like pollen.
What are the Symptoms and Treatments of an Allergic Reaction?
An allergic reaction can take on many symptoms. Coughing, wheezing, rash, hives, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing are just a few of the symptoms that may affect a person with a cat allergy.
Other symptoms could be worse and life-threatening if the allergy is bad enough.
Cat allergies are treated similarly to other allergies. Some people take antihistamines like Benadryl to control their allergies.
Decongestants like Sudafed also help in reducing the discomfort allergic reactions cause. Nasal steroid sprays like Nasacort help control allergies in a variety of different ways.
Allergy shots are another form of treatment some people undergo, but this treatment is not always successful.
What is Cat-SPIRE?
Cat-SPIRE is a cat allergy treatment developed by Circassia Pharmaceuticals. It is an immunotherapy procedure that reduces the number of shots needed during a regular allergy shot treatment. SPIRE stands for synthetic peptide immuno-regulatory epitopes.
Cat-SPIRE treatment was designed to give the patient four shots over the course of four months, which is much shorter than a usual allergy shot treatment. To desensitize a person, Cat-SPIRE used small fragments of the Fel d1 protein, the protein that causes cat allergies.
What Happened to Cat-SPIRE in Clinical Trials?
The Cat-SPIRE treatment made through phases 1 and 2 of its clinical trial. Unfortunately, Cat-SPIRE did not make it out of phase 3 without harm. It was found that the treatment worked no better than the placebo, making Cat-SPIRE worthless for now.
In the trials, 1,400 people aged 12 to 65 from the United States, Canada, and Europe enrolled in the third phase.
It was not surprising that the study failed because there are other things that may have caused allergy symptoms unrelated to cats. It is interesting that the study continued into phase 3 with no detectable issues because Cat-SPIRE is a short-course treatment.
What are the Consequences of Cat-SPIRE’s failure?
First, 64 percent of the stock of Circassia Pharmaceuticals went down, bringing bad news for people who had invested in the company.
The company had also been working on treatments for ragweed and grass allergies that were very similar to Cat-SPIRE. Those have been cancelled due to the failure of Cat-SPIRE in phase 3.
Another consequence of the failure is that patient’s will need to continue to receive regular immunotherapy (allergy shots).
This treatment lasts at least year, and it requires nearly 100 shots. With weekly injections, the patient can expect to pay $1,560 to $3,900 a year.
After the first year, it can cost $720 to $1800 a year. Some people quit receiving treatment because of the huge time commitment; other people quit or never start because it is incredibly expensive.
Cat-SPIRE was also important because there is not much work being done to find other treatments. The treatments already employed for allergies work well for most people, so there does not seem to be profit in finding new treatments. Sadly, current treatments do not work for everyone.
Cat-SPIRE would have been an excellent treatment for cat allergies had it worked. It promised a relatively short time commitment. It is likely that Cat-SPIRE would have been cheaper than regular immunotherapy. Of course, Cat-SPIRE did not work.
For now, people with cat allergies should continue to take the appropriate treatment for them, whether it is an antihistamine or a decongestant.
People with cat allergies should continue to advocate research for new treatment methods.
Finally, those with such an allergy should continue to work with their allergist or doctor to find a way to alleviate undesirable symptoms.