LOS ANGELES — For many people, spending time in a house with a pet cat can leave them sneezing and wheezing for days. Simply put, cat allergies can be beyond frustrating for sufferers. However, a recent study supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reveals a promising experimental approach that improves the effectiveness and speed of standard cat allergy treatment. Doctors say combining treatment with a monoclonal antibody might just be the game-changer cat lovers need.
Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study highlights how this new method produced long-lasting benefits even after treatment ended.
Allergen immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots, is a well-known long-term treatment that reduces allergy symptoms for individuals with conditions like allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma. However, achieving persistent symptom relief usually requires at least three years of allergy shots and doesn’t work for everyone.
Recognizing the need for better and quicker treatment options, researchers conducted a clinical trial to determine whether combining a monoclonal antibody called tezepelumab with cat allergy shots would provide safer, more effective, and longer-lasting symptom relief. Allergic rhinitis refers to the inflammation of nasal membranes, resulting in symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
Led by Dr. Jonathan Corren from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the clinical trial, named CATNIP, involved 121 adults aged 18 to 65 years across various medical centers in the United States. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either tezepelumab plus cat allergy shots, tezepelumab plus placebo shots, placebo plus allergy shots, or double placebo. The treatment period lasted 48 weeks, with a year of follow-up after treatment completion.
To assess the effectiveness of each treatment regimen, participants received nasal sprays containing cat allergen extract at specific intervals throughout the study. The researchers measured nasal symptoms and airflow in participants’ noses before and after administering the spray. Blood and nasal cell samples were also collected.
The results were remarkable. Participants who received tezepelumab plus allergy shots experienced a 36-percent reduction in nasal symptoms at the end of treatment compared to those who received only allergy shots. Even a year later, their symptoms remained 24 percent lower. This demonstrates the potential of adding a cytokine inhibitor like tezepelumab to allergy shots, as it significantly reduces allergic rhinitis symptoms for an extended period, according to the researchers.
Further analysis of blood and nasal cell samples revealed that the combination treatment triggered changes in gene network activity, leading to reduced activation of allergy-related immune cells in the nasal lining. This mechanism helped suppress allergic nasal symptoms.
The success of the CATNIP trial has paved the way for a Phase 2 trial supported by NIAID, focusing on tezepelumab combined with oral immunotherapy for food allergy. Additionally, the CATNIP investigators are conducting further analyses to understand the cellular-level mechanisms of tezepelumab plus immunotherapy and to identify individuals who would benefit the most from this treatment combination.
This breakthrough study offers hope for individuals struggling with cat allergies and opens doors for future research in allergy treatment. With continued advancements, we can expect improved therapies that provide faster relief and long-lasting results, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for allergy sufferers.
“People with chronic allergy symptoms may suffer from reduced productivity and quality of life,” says Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of NIH, in a statement. “Developing allergen immunotherapy regimens that work better and more quickly than those currently available would provide much-needed relief for many people.”
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