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Old 23rd June 2020, 08:16 AM   #1
Darat
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Block cat allergen?

Lots of people are allergic to cats, I'm one of them, so I was surprised to see a "newsletter" turn up in my emails today, it is from Purina and it is about a new cat food (for the cat) that will reduce their production of the allergen. ( Can't link to the newsletter as it seems to be a personalised link but this is a link to a Vet site that is publicising the product: https://veterinary-practice.com/news...o-launch-in-uk)
Quote:
....

Breaking News Ė a NEW way to manage cat allergens!

Spending more time at home with our pets is one of the upsides of lockdown. But if you have a sensitivity to cat allergens, you may have experienced more symptoms than usual.

Most people think that these sensitivities to cat allergens are caused by cat hair, but that's not true. This is actually caused by a sticky protein called Fel d 1. Every single cat produces Fel d 1, however, 1 in 5 of us are sensitive to these cat allergens. When cats groom themselves, they spread the saliva onto their hair and with shedding, it gets into the environment, leaving a trail of allergens throughout the house.

But at last, we've made an extraordinary discovery! This discovery will help millions of cat lovers with sensitivities to cat allergens get closer to their furry companions and better still, many more people will be able to welcome a cat into their lives.
...

And from the vet site:

Quote:
....

Dr Ebenezer Satyaraj, PhD, immunologist for Nestlť PURINA Research and lead investigator on the research that led to the development of PRO PLAN LiveClear, explains, ďMany people think that cat hair or dander is the allergen, but itís actually whatís on it Ė the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva.Ē

All cats produce Fel d 1, regardless of breed, age, hair length, sex or body weight, but at differing levels. When cats groom themselves, Fel d 1 gets on the hair and skin through the saliva and with shedding, it eventually gets into the home environment. Feld d 1 spreads widely and easily, attaches itself to any surface it comes into contact with and remains in houses for over a year or more.

The key ingredient in PRO PLAN LiveClear is a specific protein sourced from eggs. When cats eat LiveClear, the protein binds to the Fel d 1 and safely neutralises it in the catís mouth. By reducing active Fel d 1 in the catís saliva, it reduces the amount of the allergen transferred to the catís hair and dander when they groom, ultimately reducing the allergen in the environment.

...snip...
I know the allergen is legit and that it is in the saliva but 1) how likely is this to work outside the lab and 2) what potential downsides for the cat - one assume the protein has a function for the cat.
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Old 23rd June 2020, 12:19 PM   #2
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the world needs fewer domestic cats
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Old 23rd June 2020, 12:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Filippo Lippi View Post
the world needs fewer domestic cats
Reported.
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Old 23rd June 2020, 01:11 PM   #4
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According to Wikipedia it's produced mostly in cat saliva and sebaceous glands, but also by the skin itself.

And nobody knows what it's for.
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Old 23rd June 2020, 01:27 PM   #5
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I have no (allergy) problem with cats, but I would much appreciate it if some of the worst allergens could be bred or genetically modified out of foods. Peanuts and shrimp, for instance. And since cats are edible ...
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Old 23rd June 2020, 01:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I have no (allergy) problem with cats, but I would much appreciate it if some of the worst allergens could be bred or genetically modified out of foods.
I'd think you'd very quickly run into the problem that a lot of allergens are essential to the nature of the food they're found in. Gluten, for example. Breed gluten out of foods, and you lose all doughy bread. Which many people, me included, would *not* appreciate.
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Old 23rd June 2020, 02:13 PM   #7
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I misread the thread title as "black cat allergen?" and wondered why that would make a difference.
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Old 23rd June 2020, 06:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
I misread the thread title as "black cat allergen?" and wondered why that would make a difference.
Honestly, same here.
And I'm one of the 20%... and "cat people".


Never let that stop me rasslin' with them though.

I share the concern over long term effects of this treatment. Guess we'll find out in a couple of years.
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Old 23rd June 2020, 09:24 PM   #9
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Being a cat while black...

Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
I misread the thread title as "black cat allergen?" and wondered why that would make a difference.
A thread name change is obviously needed
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Old 24th June 2020, 02:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
According to Wikipedia it's produced mostly in cat saliva and sebaceous glands, but also by the skin itself.

And nobody knows what it's for.
This is the part that concerns me.

Speaking as a cat owner who is also allergic. Binding an enzyme of unknown function in a living creature just sounds reckless.
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Old 25th June 2020, 02:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
This is the part that concerns me.

Speaking as a cat owner who is also allergic. Binding an enzyme of unknown function in a living creature just sounds reckless.
I've been thinking a bit more about this and I think I've spotted the sleight of hand. I think the actual claim is that the food contains an ingredient that binds the allergen present in the saliva in other words it is binding on contact not changing the cat's metabolism but only when they are eating. I'm assuming some trace of the binding agent remains after eating at least for a short time so will help reduce the amount of the allergen.

It could be that they have developed a way so the binding agent remains in the mouth for some time between feeds so that would greatly reduce the amount of allergen the cat spreads around.
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Old 25th June 2020, 11:36 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
2) what potential downsides for the cat - one assume the protein has a function for the cat.
The product can be recalled if downsides are discovered over time. The protein is there for a function (or can be explained in the context of function even if it no longer has function) and everyone's cat will be the guinea pig for a wonderful long-term experiment on the discovery of downsides - great and small.
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Old 25th June 2020, 03:26 PM   #13
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Back in the 90s, I knew some people who kept cats on an elaborately designed vegetarian diet. It seemed unlikely to me to be good for the cats' long term health, but it wasn't really any of my business, and the cats seemed normal enough at a casual glance.

Anyhow, one of the claimed benefits of the diet was that the cats did not produce the most common allergen(s), allowing one of the owners, who would otherwise have been intolerably allergic, to live with and play with the cats. The person was clearly able to do so. It all still seemed kind of fishy (or lack-of-fish-y, perhaps) to me. A deficiency in protein severe enough to prevent the cat synthesizing the allergen protein(s), even if it were very precise about which specific amino acids were deficient, would still seem likely to cause other health problems.
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Old 25th June 2020, 11:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
This is the part that concerns me.

Speaking as a cat owner who is also allergic. Binding an enzyme of unknown function in a living creature just sounds reckless.
Surely they've first tested it on actual cats though, and the cats didn't immediately drop dead.

Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
The product can be recalled if downsides are discovered over time. The protein is there for a function (or can be explained in the context of function even if it no longer has function) and everyone's cat will be the guinea pig for a wonderful long-term experiment on the discovery of downsides - great and small.
What makes you so sure the protein has a function? I mean, it may have one to be sure. I just don't know if it necessarily has one.


Wild ass guess: Since cats groom by licking themselves, perhaps it has some beneficial function for that purpose.
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Old 25th June 2020, 11:33 PM   #15
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If it does turn out to be harmful to cats, there could be a class-action lawsuit in the future, from angry cat owners. It would be shear negligence to their shareholders if they didn't test it pretty well before bringing it to market. At least that's how capitalist economic theory goes.
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Old 26th June 2020, 01:14 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Surely they've first tested it on actual cats though, and the cats didn't immediately drop dead.



What makes you so sure the protein has a function? I mean, it may have one to be sure. I just don't know if it necessarily has one.


Wild ass guess: Since cats groom by licking themselves, perhaps it has some beneficial function for that purpose.
It is rather disturbing that its function seems not to be known, but a “vaccine” is nonetheless being formulated.
Fel d 1 belongs to the family of secretoglobins or secretory globins [15]. The biological function of Fel d 1 is still unknown. It has been suggested that its role is to protect the skin, by homology with the uteroglobin whose function is to protect mucosa [19]. Other authors believe that Fel d 1 would rather have a role in the transport of lipid molecules, especially steroids, hormones or pheromones [20].
I first heard heard about this vaccine as an injection (again for the cat not the human) which I thought was a bit rough on one’s pussy, especially considering that allergen specific immunotherapy (AIT) (increasing exposure to the allergen) is a successful treatment for this allergy.
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Old 26th June 2020, 11:24 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I've been thinking a bit more about this and I think I've spotted the sleight of hand. I think the actual claim is that the food contains an ingredient that binds the allergen present in the saliva in other words it is binding on contact not changing the cat's metabolism but only when they are eating. I'm assuming some trace of the binding agent remains after eating at least for a short time so will help reduce the amount of the allergen.

It could be that they have developed a way so the binding agent remains in the mouth for some time between feeds so that would greatly reduce the amount of allergen the cat spreads around.
I'd still be concerned. The enzyme's function could be expected to take place in the saliva.

Just as a random example, it could be part of the vitamin D pathway. They spread saliva on their fur while grooming, there's a chemical reaction with sunlight that makes vitamin D, they lick it up next time they're grooming. If the enzyme is deactivated the result could be a vitamin deficiency.

Or it could be a digestive enzyme, like our human salivary amylase.

It just seems reckless.
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Old 26th June 2020, 11:31 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
If it does turn out to be harmful to cats, there could be a class-action lawsuit in the future, from angry cat owners. It would be shear negligence to their shareholders if they didn't test it pretty well before bringing it to market. At least that's how capitalist economic theory goes.
Yes, which is why I'm currently classifying it under the "sheer negligence" label.

See: "Melamine" or "Stewart Parnell"

You say 'stupid,' but they said, 'by the time they prove it, i'll be on the beach in Tahiti.' (taps temple)


ETA: C'mon, this is a Skeptics forum. Caveat Emptor to the point where customers die is a very familiar story around here. Half our quackbusting is despair that their business model seems to carry such a disconnect between harm and accountability.
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Last edited by blutoski; 26th June 2020 at 11:39 AM. Reason: added healthfraud
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Old 26th June 2020, 03:43 PM   #19
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All the humans allergic to cats should taken to the nearest field and forced to fight to the death with the last human standing given a ball of yarn to play with.

Signed

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Old 26th June 2020, 04:07 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Surely they've first tested it on actual cats though, and the cats didn't immediately drop dead.

What makes you so sure the protein has a function? I mean, it may have one to be sure. I just don't know if it necessarily has one.
You should go back and read what I wrote. I promptly said that this protein has a present function. I also said (or implied) that if it doesn't have a current function then it did previously have one. But maybe what I was trying to say wasn't clear. This unique protein might be vestigial. But I would bet that it isn't.

Quote:
Wild ass guess: Since cats groom by licking themselves, perhaps it has some beneficial function for that purpose.
Sure. But the details might not be easily discovered and that might be why researchers don't know. Just as a token example, there could be a necessary bacterial fauna living everywhere outside the body (fur and skin) and this is somehow fueled by the protein to allow it to perform the necessary function(s). If these bacteria are not provided with the protein-provided-energy they become deprived and may not function in a way that prevents disease. This might be disease of the fur and/or the skin. This might even cause disease beyond the fur and skin.

You could think of a cat, inside and out, as an ecosystem. If you remove a component wholesale, then we look to see and expect to see cascade or domino effect for the other components beginning with those closest to the removed component and radiating outwards over time. I think I have that right, but in reality ecosystems are more complex than we can describe.

At best we try to emphasize the complexity and total interconnectivity as being a kind of (spider) web. It's often illustrated as a food web. But a living ecosystem is much more than an eating and being-eaten food web. It's actually an energy web which must also include non-living components. Ecosystems include energy flows from non-living things to living things, and energy flows from living things to non-living things. So food, is not always the source of needed energy.

Also in this token example, those good cat bacteria might not get their energy directly from the protein. But if the protein is removed it affects some other interconnected component which does end up somehow providing energy for the bacteria.

You have to be real careful about this stuff because problems could be hidden or delayed or something else like that. The experts don't know what this protein is doing. And people really love their cats and some of those people have guns. But there are no crazy cat people so there probably won't be any violence.
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Old 26th June 2020, 10:17 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Yes, which is why I'm currently classifying it under the "sheer negligence" label.

See: "Melamine" or "Stewart Parnell"

You say 'stupid,' but they said, 'by the time they prove it, i'll be on the beach in Tahiti.' (taps temple)


ETA: C'mon, this is a Skeptics forum. Caveat Emptor to the point where customers die is a very familiar story around here. Half our quackbusting is despair that their business model seems to carry such a disconnect between harm and accountability.
Good points. Clearly capitalist economic theory is often a poor predictor of actual human behavior in the real world.
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