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by Marijana Domazet, Thursday, August 8, 2013 | Categories: Allergies

A research team from University of Cambridge claims to have found the way the body’s immune system detects cat allergen, which has raised hopes of new treatments being developed.

The study behind this announcement was recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Immunology. The purpose of the study was to look at how cat dander (tiny skin particles from cats) affects the so-called TLR4-signalling on the LPS protein on a molecular level. The key findings indicated that cat dander firstly binds to the bacterial surface of LPS, which is recognised by TLR4. Then, once it is recognised, a signalling cascade will commence, which will ultimately result in an immune response. In order for this to occur, there also has to be a protein called MD2. MD2 binds LPS to TLR4.

As the purpose of the study was to establish a series of events at a molecular level that are necessary for the immune system to be activated, the researchers did two types of analyses. Initially they included cat dander but excluded MD2, which led to a small increase in TLR4 signalling. This indicated that cat dander on its own would not be sufficient to create an allergic response. Then the researchers added MD2, which led to a 16 fold increase in TLR4 signalling. This suggested that both cat dander and MD2 are needed for an allergic response to occur.

Based on this, the researchers stated that they had solid data to support further trials with treatments that use TLR4 antagonists to prevent LPS binding to TLR4.

The findings from the current study are certainly intriguing and could open up the possibility for new treatments being developed and marketed in the near future. We are aware of trials that are currently looking at the efficacy of treatments with TLR4 antagonists; however they are still in very early stages. It is our hope that the current trials prove fruitful and that it leads to new avenues for treatment and research.

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