While I absolutely love all dogs, petting certain breeds always leaves me with a tickle in my nose. That tickle can quickly turn into a stuffy nose, itchiness, and watery eyes if I don’t wash my hands immediately after giving pets. I’d rather endure a dog allergy than avoid dogs altogether. But one day, I might be able to have the best of both worlds.
Research published in the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) Journal reveals that scientists are getting closer to creating a dog allergy vaccine.
According to the study authors, previous research identified seven different dog allergens. (An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction.) Dog allergens can create allergic reactions because they bind to antibodies, a process that sets off an abnormally strong immune response in some people. (Antibodies are proteins in our bloodstream that bind onto invaders — like allergens — in an attempt to destroy them. They also alert the rest of the body that there is something foreign in the body, creating an immune system response.)
Why This Research Could Help Create a Dog Allergy Vaccine
While there are seven known dog allergens, the researchers from the FEBS study focused on just one: Can f 1. Can f 1 is a protein responsible for 50 to 75 percent of human dog allergies, according to a study press release. So, a vaccine created around Can f 1 would address most people’s symptoms. (Interesting fact: Can f 1 is found in dog’s tongue tissue, salivary glands, and skin. That explains why you might develop an allergic reaction from a dog lick even if you didn’t touch that pup’s fur.)
However, a vaccine won’t be possible unless scientists know the spot on the Can f 1 protein to which human antibodies bind. In other words: Scientists need to know where antibodies latch on.
With this in mind, the authors of the FEBS study used special X-ray technology to map out the structure of the Can f 1 protein. This helped them discover the protein’s folding pattern, which in turn helped them figure out where antibodies are most likely to bind to Can f 1.
As the study authors explained, no other researchers have yet mapped out the Can f 1 protein, which makes their findings novel. The FEBS study could therefore be a big step forward towards a dog allergy vaccine.
While more research is necessary, it’s good to know that I have hope for a sniffle-free future!